How do Chiropractors look after their OWN backs?11 May, 2017
As Chiropractors we must practice what we preach. Ever seen a dentist with bad teeth? Well maybe you have managed to catch sight of one of the few who doesn’t practice as they would preach but in general their mouths tend to be pearly white. So we tend to listen and pay attention when a dentist tells us what they themselves do each day to look after their dental hygiene.
How much more important is the spine and how much more work do we put it through? We use our teeth three times a day for 20 minutes or so but the spine is in constant use supporting our entire body every minute we’re not lying down! So with that in mind I thought – why not share a few practices that I adhere to myself, that help keep my musculoskeletal system healthy and happy.
Here are my tips!
How we wake up sets the tone for the day and there’s nothing worse than waking up with a crink in your neck or a stiff sore back. Sleeping flat on your back is great for spinal alignment but always make me feel little like count Dracula so I sleep on my side with a pillow between my knees to stop one leg falling across the other and twisting the pelvis, and with my head on a pillow so that my noses in line with the middle of my chest.
Thankfully I don’t sit a lot in any given day but when I do my elbows will be tucked in to my sides and I’ll be upright with a straight gravity line going through my head, chest and pelvis. Most people lean forward too much, try making yourself tall in your seat, and have your ear in line with your shoulder. lean against the backrest too if you have one.
I commute to and from work by bike and so cycling posture is a big one for me. I avoid slumping or leaning on the handle bars but rather grip them and gently push the handles away from me keeping my arms straight so that my torso is upright with my chest up and open, chin tucked in. This keeps my spine in neutral rather than one long C-shape curve which many cyclists adopt.
Turning your feet (and therefore body)
A big one I talk to patients about is how to perform simple movements in a safe way. Constantly bending and twisting the spine into awkward positions, even if there’s no load on the spine, puts you at risk. One important idea to keep in mind is turning the feet rather than the body so that your feet always point at whatever you’re lifting or interacting with, this sounds tedious but swivelling the feet is very easy once you get used to it.
Hip hinging and lunging
Now that your feet (and body) are facing whatever is you’re lifting/interacting with, two simple movements can be used to ensure the strain is being distributed evenly through the spine and the limbs. Lunging is the act of going down on one knee which allows you to lift using the strong leg muscles and to keep the torso reasonably upright. Hip hinging is less well-known but involves moving from the hips and knees by pushing the bum backwards as you simultaneously bend your knee and so the spine can stay straight and avoid developing a big curvature.
There are many other things that as chiropractors we teach our patients every day, but here are just some of the simplest and commonest. It really is the little things that make the difference. I put them into practice every day to preserve my musculoskeletal health!
PS – and of course I brush my teeth 😛
by Dr Mark Mullan Chiropractor at Backspace
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