Did you know that your spine covers and protects your nervous system? Our nervous system is comprised of a complex network of nerves and cells that send messages to and from the brain and spinal cord to different parts of the body! Quite fascinating, really.
It stands to reason then, the importance of maintaining a healthy spine, with good posture to prevent spinal decay and to ensure that there is optimal communication between the brain and the body.
When we suffer from reduced range of motion, pain, misalignments, and poor posture we should be looking at our spine health as these are indications that the health of our spine may be impeding our ability to perform. This can impact us physically, but also impede our focus and carrying out basic functions.
Below are my top 15 warning signs of an unhealthy spine that you should be aware of:
1. Poor Weight Distribution
Stand on two separate bathroom scales with each foot on a scale and compare the weight distribution. If the weight is unequal, this is a strong indication that your spine, hips or head are off-center. Oftentimes, loss of proper curvature or holding poor or uneven postures for long periods of time causes this to occur.
2. You Have Headaches, Backaches, and Sore or Tender Spots in Your Muscles or Joints
Pain is a signal from your body telling you that something is not working right, no amount of pain or soreness is normal and should be ignored. Headaches, neck pain, soreness or tenderness are often a strong indication that you have shifts and misalignments in your spine, and these can lead to a range of health issues if not addressed.
3. One Leg Appears Shorter Than the Other
Lie face down with your shoes on. Then have someone else look down at your feet and compare the length of your leg by comparing the heels. If one is longer than the other, spinal or pelvic shifting may be affecting your spine and your lower limb articulations.
4. You Are Often Fatigued
Misalignment of the spine or what chiropractors call subluxations can cause interference in the brain and body communication and can lead to fatigue and a lower state of health.
5. You Have Trouble Concentrating
Any restricted functioning of the spine can have effects on brain health and function; as neuro signaling is affected, so is our mental stamina and ability to focus.
6. You Are Unable to Take a Satisfying Deep Breath
Restriction on the movement of the thoracic spine can also lead to decreased lung function due to the inability to take long, deep inhales.
7. The Heels of Your Shoes Wear Out Unevenly
This can be due to uneven leg length, which as we discussed, is often caused by the postural shifts and misalignment of the spine.
8. You Have to “Crack” Your Neck, Back or Other Joints Frequently
Abnormal movement of the spine can cause a person to “feel stiff and stuck” prompting them to want to adjust themselves—or in other words “crack” their spine on their own. Self-adjustments are not recommended as they can’t be specific to where the problem areas may be for joint dysfunction.
9. Your Jaw “Clicks”
Your jaw can be affected by misalignments in your neck, causing a clicking sound when opening and closing the mouth.
10. You Cannot Twist or Turn Your Head or Hips to Either Side Equally or Easily
Pain, discomfort or reduced range of motion while twisting and turning is often a symptom of spinal dysfunction.
11. One or Both Feet Flare Out When Walking
Check your feet when you walk. If one or two feet appear to flare outward or inward, your spine and pelvis may be unbalanced which can lead to unwanted wear and tear on your knees and hips.
12. You Have a Low Resistance to Disease
Spine dysfunction can affect your neuroendocrine and immune systems. These systems play a crucial role in the resistance to disease and your ability to fight infection.
13. You Feel Stiffness in Your Back and Neck
Subluxations decreased spinal mobility and create stiffness. This stiffness is a classic symptom of an unhealthy spine.
14. You Feel Stressed or Tense Constantly
If you feel tension or stress in your muscles or joints, especially in the neck and upper back, it could be a sign of an unhealthy spine.
15. You Just Do Not Feel Right or You Are in General Poor Health
A decrease in overall health is a common result of neuro-musculoskeletal dysfunctions or subluxations.
There are a number of options for you to consider to help improve your spinal health and posture:
- Weight management: Excess weight, especially around the midsection, can pull on the back, weakening abdominal muscles which can lead to lordosis in the back.
- Develop a regular program of exercise: Regular exercise keeps you flexible and helps strengthen muscles to support proper posture.
- Purchase a quality mattress: A good mattress (medium-firm) will support the spine and help maintain the same shape as a person with a good upright posture. However, a mattress that is too firm may place unwanted pressure on the hips and shoulders when sleeping on your side. Do your research, you can start by looking at the one I most recommend to my patients HERE.
- Pay attention to injuries from bumps, falls and accidents: Injuries in youth or young adulthood may cause growth abnormalities or postural adaptations to the injury or pain that can show up later in life, it is important to diagnose and address even minor injuries before they develop into bigger issues.
- Be conscious of where you work: Is your chair high enough to fit your desk? Do you need a footrest to keep pressure off your legs? When possible, you should modify a computer workstation to best support a neutral body position. A neutral body position is a comfortable working posture in which your joints are naturally aligned and there is the least stress and strain on your muscles, tendons, and joints. If you can, invest in an ergonomic chair, which has an adjustable seat angle, back support, and padded elbow support, and an adjustable desk that allows you to customize its height when needed. For more suggestions for the workplace, and ergonomics read my blog HERE.
- See a chiropractor: Most people will, at one time or another, feel basic “wear and tear” on their spine from simply everyday living. Getting a professional assessment is the way to go to ensure any immediate issues can be rectified. Chiropractors can help address misalignment and loss of curvature to mitigate most of the signs mentioned above. If you are local my staff and I would be happy to see you for an evaluation or perhaps I’ve seen you before and but it has been some time since we’ve seen you. You can schedule an appointment HERE and we’d be happy to get you aligned.
Good posture looks and feels good. It plays a critical role in the overall functioning of the nervous system affecting every cell, organ, and tissue in the body, not to mention our energy levels and how we feel. So, straighten up and get checked by your chiropractor on a regular, wellness basis.
So now it’s your turn, how healthy is your spine?