Although often overlooked, your posture and the health of your spine should be at the top of the list when it comes to good health. It should be right up there with eating well, exercising often, and getting adequate sleep. Surprised? The spine covers and protects our nervous system—a complex network of nerves and cells that transport messages to and from the brain and spinal cord to different parts of the body—so it is important that we maintain good posture to prevent spinal decay, and to make sure that there is proper communication between the brain and body.
Misalignments, pain, reduced range of motion, and poor posture are all indications that the health of your spine may be impeding on your ability to perform physically, focus mentally and carry out basic functions optimally.
So how do you know your spine may be impeding on your health? While nothing can replace a complete neuromusculoskeletal evaluation performed by a chiropractor, there are some ways you yourself can get a general idea about the health of your spine and joints.
Here Are 15 Warning Signs of an Unhealthy Spine:
#1 – Poor Weight Distribution
Stand on two separate bathroom scales with each foot on a scale and compare the weight distribution. If the weight in 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, which 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 neurosignaling 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 misalignment s 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 and 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 system. 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 creates 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-musculo-skeletal dysfunctions or subluxations.
So, how can you improve your posture and spinal health? There are plenty of options. Consider the following:
- Maintain a good weight: 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;
- Buy good bedding: A good mattress (medium-firm) will support the spine and help maintain the same shape as a person with good upright posture. However, a mattress that is too firm may place unwanted pressure on the hips and shoulders when sleeping on your side;
- 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.
- 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.
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?