Align Your Spine

It’s hard to stand up straight when you’re carrying the world on your shoulders

By KD Reep

align your spine

Hefting the responsibility of family, work, home and community commitments can take a physical toll in the form of neck and back pain. Sometimes, it’s tension and stress. Other times, spinal pain can indicate a more serious cause.

For chronic or undiagnosed pain in the neck or back, it’s vital to seek the counsel of a physician trained in spinal conditions. “When dealing with neck and back pain, core strengthening and stretching of the spine is essential to make it stronger and more resistant to injury,” said Dr. Justin Seale, a spine surgeon who works at CHI St. Vincent. “We pursue nonsurgical intervention through physical therapy, rehabilitation and pain management. Neck and back pain, especially if radiating, can greatly affect your quality of life and prevent you from doing things you enjoy. See a doctor to diagnose your problem. There are customized treatment plans that can help you get back to life,” he said.

When the world gets to be too much to tote, put it down for a while and have your own back. Your neck and spine will thank you.

Caring for your neck and back may seem like one more thing you have to add to your to-do list, but viewing it as self-care will allow you to maintain your health and continue to lift the load with a little more ease. Here are a few ways to help you align your spine and your priorities:

1. Relax your back. Sleep is the body’s way of repairing and rejuvenating itself, and if you wake up with a sore, stiff back or neck, your body has to work overtime to heal. Make sure you have a comfortable bed and pillows that support your spine and allow you to sleep with minimal, if any, interruptions.

2. Give your spine some support. Those six-pack abs are good for more than an envious glance or two. Exercise your body’s core muscles in your lower back and abdominals, which will relieve the pressure from and support your spine. Yoga is a good way to exercise all the muscles in your body while focusing your attention and providing total body relaxation. You can take any number of classes throughout central Arkansas, watch YouTube videos for instruction or workout with a friend to stay motivated.

3. When tension, stress and old injuries become too much, consider a massage. Whether performed by a massage therapist or a loved one, massage increases your blood flow and circulation, decreases tension and releases endorphins. When you combine massage with a good night’s sleep and a strong core, your neck and back will be much more flexible and forgiving of each day’s tasks.

4. Give flip-flops the cold shoulder. Shoes support your lower back, which supports your upper back, which supports your neck and head. Without the right shoes giving you a sturdy and comfortable foundation, your neck and back don’t stand a chance of staying in alignment. Instead of flip-flops and heels for daily wear, choose shoes that fit well and support your entire foot.

5. Seek out a professional. If you’ve done all these things but your neck and back pain still lingers, consider going to a chiropractor or other medical professional. Getting your spine in alignment can relieve pain in your muscles, joints, bones and connective tissue. Through hands-on manipulation and other alternative treatments, a chiropractor can help your body heal without surgery or medication. In particular, a chiropractor can help treat headaches, neck pain and osteoarthritis in addition to muscle strains from overuse.