A healthy posture and correct back alignment has become a real luxury in today`s world. In addition to injuries, our daily activities and bad habits are a major contributing factor to this present state.
You will hear a lot of “health gurus” talking about the importance of maintaining a proper balance and probably disregard it, thinking that this is just some new age BS. I am here to tell you that you couldn`t be further from the truth.
Achieving a proper balance is the key to healthy, pain free life; and if you are suffering from back pain, making changes in your spine and back alignment is a great place to start.
Changes in your alignment can be so subtle and mild, you even failed to notice them. Luckily, I will share with you some tips and advises on how you can pinpoint them and eliminate them before they manage to do some damage.
Using A Mirror
Mirror can be of great assistance when accessing our posture (it is not only good for putting on make up!). When you need to do is to stand in front of it and pinpoint a few reference points. Those points are (from top to bottom):
- Bottom (or top) of your earlobes
- Top of your shoulders
- Your hips
- And last, but not least, ankles
Compare these points side-by-side and identify if there are any irregularities, such as one shoulder higher than the other one. If you pinpoint them, there is a good chance you have problems with the alignment of your spine or back and you should talk to your doctor.
The Length Of Your Legs
It may be hard to believe, but the length of your legs can give us a great insight into the condition of your back. Of course, back problems will not make your leg actually grow a couple inches longer than the other, it will make it look like it is longer.
If there are some problems in the joints of the hip or the back, your body will try to compensate and adapt to the new situation by making these physical adjustments. This is, obviously, a major problem, and if you experience it you should pay your doctor a visit.
Using A Ninja Scale
Most of us have a regular scale in our bathroom, but if you are a real ninja you might have one that can measure weight distribution on left and right side of your body. Of course, these numbers should be equal; if they are off, something is wrong.
The good news is, if you are experiencing problems with back and spine alignment, there are some exercises and stretches that will help you sort things out.
There are many different stretching exercises available on the Internet, but we made an effort to pick the best ones, the ones that can truly help you feel better.
Wall Stretch. For this exercises you will need a piece of equipment commonly found in every house – a wall! Stand in front of the wall, place your hands on it (slightly above waist level) and flex your body until your spine becomes parallel to the floor. Hold this stretch for 5-10 seconds and return to the previous position. Repeat 3-5 times.
Cat And Cow Pose Combined. Those are two of my favorite yoga positions, and if you haven`t heard of them before, don`t worry, they are really easy.
Get on your hands and knees and loosen up your spine, as you inhale look up and lower your spine as much as you can – this is cow pose. As you exhale, lower your head and try to hunch your back, lifting it as much as you can – this is cat pose.
If you are having troubles figuring out these poses, look at the video below (caution: hot, yoga girl coming up):
Sideways stretch. Again, pretty basic exercise, but very effective when it comes to these problems. Stand up straight, feet shoulder a part, with your hands on your hips. As you lean to one side of the body, extend the opposite arm above your head and to the side until you feel you have reached your limit. Repeat this on the opposite side as well.
Back exercises are a great way you can strengthen your back and make them almost “injury-proof.” Exercising is especially important as we get older, so there is no excuse or reason for avoiding them!
Hamstring Stretch. This is a great exercise, not just for alignment, but also for piriformis syndrome, so make sure you incorporate it into your daily routine. Lie down on your back, grab a towel and wrap it around your foot. Try to pull it towards you as much as you can, with your leg straight.
If you don`t have a towel (hey, you never know), just extend your leg, grab it behind the thigh and pull until you feel your muscles working and stretching to your limits. Depending on your level of fitness and flexibility, repeat it 10-15 times with each leg.
Leg Raise. Lie down on your stomach and lift your legs up in the air, while stabilizing your body by holding to a solid piece of furniture. It you are fit enough, you can raise your legs and arms simultaneously.
Core Muscles Exercise. When it comes to our back, we must provide it with enough support and stabilize it properly, this is where our core muscles come in. There are literally millions of variations of these, core exercises, but I will recommend you the most common one.
Lie down on your back, bend one leg while extending the other. Raise your extended leg 10-15 times before going over the the opposite one. Again, if you are physically fit, you can lift both legs at the same time; and if you are really hardcore, you can perform a vertical leg crunch, check it out on the video below.