What is the Spine?
The spine is our backbone and extends from the top of the neck to the tailbone. A healthy spine is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.
The spine consists of 33 relatively small bones, called vertebrae. The neck part of the spine, called cervical spine consists of 7 vertebrae.
There are 12 vertebrae in the upper and mid back (thoracic spine) and 5 in the low back or lumbar spine. Five bones fuse together in the tailbone region to form the sacrum and below that is the coccyx, formed by 4 bones.
The spine is an integral part of the body. Without it, we would not be able to stand upright. The spine houses and protects the spinal cord, absorbing shock and allowing us to bend and twist. Hundreds of muscles, ligaments and tendons are attached to the spine, as well.
Why look after your spine?
Unfortunately, approximately 80% of the population suffers from back pain at some point in their lives. The reasons for this vary but if you are overweight, smoke or undertake regular manual work then you're more likely to be a sufferer.
As back pain is so common, it's important to look after your spine to reduce the number of instances and their affect on your overall wellbeing.
Poor spinal health impacts upon the nervous system which in turn reduces our capability of living a normal, active life.
The Straighten Up New Zealand programme along with an active and healthy lifestyle will help keep your spine in good shape.
By promoting balance, strength and flexibility in your spine, the risk of getting problems with your back now and in the future can be substantially reduced.
Here's some helpful tips:
- Make time to check your bag/briefcase each day for items you won’t need. Additional weight in your bag is extra weight that your shoulders and back have to bear.
- If you work at a desk, take the time to adjust your chair when you start work in the morning. Your seat should be adjusted so that your feet are flat on the ground, your hips slightly higher than your knees and your eyes level with the centre of the computer screen. Use a seat with arm rests.
- 10 minute rule – if a journey would take you less than 10 minutes to walk, then leave the car at home!
- Whatever you are doing, take regular breaks if you can. Never sit in the same position for more than 40 minutes, less if possible. When you do take a break walk around and stretch a little.
- Try to use the stairs instead of a lift or escalator.
- If you get a bus to work, get off a few stops earlier and walk the remaining journey.
- Exercise needn’t be dull, join a fun class like salsa or belly dancing and go with a friend. It’s much more fun with two.
Sitting with legs crossed for prolonged periods of time can alter your pelvic balance