Strength and Flexibility: The Keys to a Healthy Back

Movement is life. We were designed to move. When we do not move, we start to die. The same goes for the microcosm within us. Every cell and tissue in our body is in constant motion. Tissues that become static begin to stagnate and eventually perish.

The spine is designed to move. Each vertebra is connected to the next by a disc and 2 facet joints. It is similar to a snake, which is not surprising as we evolved from the same source. For optimum health our backs should be mobile at every joint. Our spines should be as fluid and flexible as a snake. However, they are not. This may, in part, be due to our upright posture which puts more stress on the spinal muscles and joints.

Gentle stretching with mindfulness

You may have noticed that young people are flexible while older people are more stiff. The older we get the more our backs stiffen up. This is because the fibres that cover our spinal joints get thicker and more brittle over time. These fibres are a kind of scar tissue and those parts of the spine that get more stress on them due to our habitual postures or repetitive work activity, tend to develop more scar tissue. This is called “wear and tear” by some people and may be the first stage of arthritis.

Chiropractic treatment releases the adhesions that form on people’s spines giving them more mobility. When you have a more mobile spine you suffer less pain. Many people think that a chiropractor’s job is about relieving back pain. It is not. It is about restoring mobility.  Reduced pain is a by-product of chiropractic treatment

The first stage in restoring health to your back is to improve mobility. When your back is more mobile it is important to work on your core strength. Core stability exercises, such as taught in a Pilates class, help to strengthen the muscles that support the spine. They also help to develop neurological control over these muscles so that they contract to protect the back at the right time. (It doesn’t matter how strong a muscle is, if it contracts at the wrong time it is useless!)

A mobile spine and strong core are the two essential components of a healthy back. One without the other is insufficient. If you spinal joints are inflexible  your spine is like a solid broom handle. The muscles around it, that move the vertebrae, are ineffective if the joints cannot move. On the other hand a flexible back without a strong core is unstable.

When your back is flexible, strong and stable then all you have to do is to use your back the way it is meant to be used. That is to be active in your daily life; Keep your whole body moving as much as possible. The beauty of being pain-free is that you don’t have to think about your back, you can just get on with the things you want to.

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