In the grand scheme of Creation, at the very beginning of Life, there were only invertebrates on this planet – meaning these creatures did not have a spine. As life evolved over millions of years the vertebrates came into existence. A big jump of evolution created the spinal column. Initially the spine was horizontal. After many more million years a huge leap in evolution created Homo Sapiens who walked with vertical, erect spines. This perhaps is the single most important and significant calibration of evolution. Our entire skeletal system is supported by the spine. The nervous system travels along the spine and carries all the nerve currents to the brain and that is how we experience all of life. So the spine is the axis of our experience of this universe. No spine, no life experience.
The skeletal structure of the spine is what makes it the most flexible part of the body. We rarely think of how important this organ or system is to our entire existence on this planet. One can live a fairly full life without a limb, but the same cannot be said about spinal or back problems. Dancers, gymnasts, athletes enjoy their respective sport only because their back allows them to bend and twist in innumerable ways. To perform simple day to day activities like walking, gardening, cleaning requires one to have the strength and flexibility in the spine. Having a healthy back and spine is key to performing our activities with a flourish.
Unfortunately back pain has become a common health problem. As one enters middle age, bone strength, muscle flexibility start to decline. The fluid in the spine becomes dry making them less able to cushion the vertebrae. All these can lead to low back pain. Obesity is another reason why people suffer from back pain. If there is extra weight around the mid section, it pull the pelvis forward, putting extra stress and weight on the lower back. Sedentary life style also increases the risk of back pain. Maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise and good diet not only reduces this risk, but also prevents it from surfacing. Incorrect sitting posture, slouching or sitting forward, and poor workplace ergonomics can cause recurrent episodes of back pain. People who undergo a great deal of stress and don’t have effective ways of managing it suffer from muscle stiffness and back issues. All of the above are brought on by our “life style”. Other causes of back problems like Bulging and Ruptured Disc, Sciatica, Spine Osteoarthritis, Scoliosis etc need specialized medical attention.
Life Style related back pain can be prevented by doing yoga, pilates, swimming, riding a stationary bike or walking, and other types of exercises. Try incorporating these simple exercises like knee touches, wall sits, press up back extension, hamstring stretches, pelvic tilts etc into the daily routine to strengthen the back. Of course – before doing any exercise – consult your doctor.
Here are 3 simple tips to maintain a healthy spine.
1) Rest well – Get your needed rest and sleep on a daily basis.
2) Right Posture – Maintain a good posture while sitting and standing.
3) Regimen – Exercise regularly and incorporate movement that flexes your back muscles.
Maintaining an active lifestyle is important for keeping the back flexible and strong for years to come. Having a sport as a hobby will ensure good spinal health. Even simple activities – that involve bending, twisting to the sides, stretching etc – when performed on a regular basis provides the much needed exercise to strengthen the back muscles, which prolongs and enriches our experience of life in an era where humans live longer.
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