Spinal Hygiene is paramount to a lifelong healthy body, mind and spirit. Your body and Spine require movement through full and proper ranges of motion to nourish the spinal cord and nervous system, and allow the highest and most efficient flow of nerve impulse and energy throughout the body. The more often you exercise your Spine, the better you will function.
“Over 90% of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by the movement of the spine. This is analogous to a windmill generating electricity.” -Dr. Roger Sperry (Medical doctor winner of the Nobel prize for brain research)
Below are some Spinal Hygiene exercises. We’ve provided printout sheets, and a video, compliments of Dr. Chris Zaino.
Spinal Hygiene Exercises
Q: Doc, I move my body every day! I’m an active athlete, isn’t that enough movement?
A: It’s not quite that simple. That is great exercise and is necessary to keep your muscles and organs strong. In order to maintain health of your Spine, you need to run it through it’s full ranges of motion, with proper biomechanics. For those with injuries, you need be adjusted and then perform your exercises so that you body integrates and creates an understanding of itself in space, but this time, in proper alignment.
In addition, the exercises you do on a day to day basis probably aren’t putting your spine through its ranges of motion. In fact, we see the opposite happen quite frequently in athletes. The major problem is that they are NOT going through full ranges of motion in their spine, which leads to tight muscles, and injury prone patterns, and further deteriorates under improper biomechanics.
Q: How often do I have to do these exercises?
A: How often do you brush your teeth? Shower? Not too long ago both Dentists and public hygiene were blasphemed, as they were not part of the cultural norm, or accepted ‘standards’ of living. However, you can live without taking a shower (in fact many would argue your health would be better with few showers. Even the research shows you should not shower after sun exposure as it disrupts the many healthy biochemical responses occurring within the skin, like vitamin D conversion.) I digress. Imagine if you didn’t brush your teeth until you had pain? Your teeth would be rotten and have fallen out. You can live without teeth, and without showering; you can’t live with an unhealthy Spine. The majority of the population does not take care of their Spine, until they’re in very advanced stages of disease processes, improper biomechanical patterns and deterioration.
“Loss of the cervical curve (i.e. loss of normal spinal posture), stretches the spinal cord 5-7 centimeters, and causes disease.”–Dr. A. Breig, Neuro-surgeon, winner of the Nobel Prize
“Forward head posture leads to long term muscle strain, disc herniations, arthritis and pinched nerves.” –Mayo Clinic, November 3, 2000
“For every inch of forward head posture, it can increase the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds.” Kapandji, Physiology of Joints, Vol 3.
“Abnormal postures are well known to play a role in the causation of pain and functional impairment leading to disability.” Calliet, R. M.D., Low Back Pain Syndrome, Edition 4, Pain Series, F.A. Davis Company Fourth Printing, 1991, pgs. 5-8 and 26-43.
“By far the most important proprioceptive information needed for the maintenance of equilibrium is that derived from the joint receptors of the neck” -Guyton A. Basic Neuroscience. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: WB Saunders; 1991
90-97% of all back pain is due to dysfunction of either the spinal joints or the muscles or both. -MANUAL MEDICINE, Vol. 5, No. 3, 1990, 110-114. Kirkaldy-Willis and Tilscher
Shifts in gravity (Postural) in the aging population led to hemorrhoids, varicose veins of the legs, osteoporosis, intestinal problems, overall poorer health and even early death. -Journal of the American Medical Association, J.T. Freeman, “Posture in the Aging and Aged Body”. , Vol. 165, No. 7, 1957, 843-846
And the American Journal of Pain Management, Vol. 4, No.1, 1994, 36-39 “Postural and Respiratory Modulation of Autonomic Function, Pain, and Health” concluded that posture affects all human function including proper breathing, musculoskeletal pain, mind/body interaction and balance, vocal ability–including speaking and singing, proper immune function and, of course, overall health.
Posture Predicts Mortality-Journal of the American Geriatrics Society-Volume 52 Issue 10 Page 1662 – October 2004-Deborah M. Kado, MD, MS, Mei-Hua Huang, DrPH, Arun S. Karlamangla, MD, PhD, Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, MD and Gail A. Greendale, MD