Back pain is a common condition, affecting about four out of five people at some point in their lives. And when it comes to preventing back pain and maintaining good posture, RADicals I got your back (pun intended)!
I have been battling chronic back pain for almost two years now, so when I had the opportunity to chat with Dr. Ken Hansraj (author of Keys to An Amazing Life: Secrets of the Cervical Spine) I jumped on it – and boy was I in for a treat.
Have you ever met someone and said, “Ohhhh this what they mean when they say angels sometimes come to earth.” Well that in a nutshell is Dr. Hansraj. While he may be an orthopedic and spinal surgeon by trade, he is certainly a healer by heart. I will never forget our time together and am honored to share his top 5 tips for how to improve your posture and achieve a stunning and stronger spine.
Downward Dog Meets The Hundred. Having a daily exercise regimen that strengthens the spine, stretches the neck and opens the chest is the best kind of love you can show your spine. In just 10 minutes a day the spinal nerves and facet joints can be strengthened and stretched within a few popular yoga/pilates move. For instance downward dog is great for stretching the spine, and the plank and the hundred are fantastic for strengthening the core (the spines body guards). Ever since I started incorporating a serious yoga/pilates practice into my workout regimen the severity of my chronic back pain has drastically lessened.
How To Dine For A Healthy Spine. So now that you know good posture begins with your core it is important to also understand that the strength of your core can directly impact your digestion. Dr. Ken suggests following a diet consisting mostly of lean proteins and lots of fresh vegetables. He also recommends a multivitamin as well as a B-complex and Omega-3, as those have been shown to help decrease pain in the nerves of the spine. And of course, avoid sugars whenever possible.
Sunlight = Everything Right. Poor posture has also been directly linked to depression, and one sure way to beat the back-related blues is getting your daily dose of sunlight. Believe it or not, the sun can have a magical effect on you. It energizes the whole body, literally waking it up and encouraging the body to stand up straighter, which gives you a more alert and happy appearance.
Let Your Breath Lead You. Deep breathing doesn’t need to be limited to your weekly yoga classes. Just follow Dr.Ken’s method of placing your hands on your belly and feeling it move as you inhale and exhale. Do this as many times a day as possible to improve your posture and better your overall spinal health. Oh and not to mention the less stress benefit that comes from deep breathing. Stressed breath is also shallow breath. When we constantly breath like this the nerves in the channel are not moving; and consequently they hurt (hello back pain). However happy breathing is deep breathing, and happy breath allows the nerves to move efficiently and are not tender.
Meditate On This. According to Dr. Ken, meditation can be beneficial in restoring alertness, boosting mood, increasing productivity and prolonging life, not to mention the positive effects it can have on your spine and posture. People who meditate tend to focus on their core, automatically straightening their spines in the process. So take the time to be one with yourself often and your spine will return the favor with healthy spinal longevity.