Having optimal spinal alignment not only allows you to have a greater range of motion and overall performance, but it also helps ensure your body’s optimal function and slows the aging process. However, to maintain optimal spine alignment, it’s also important to maintain a healthy posture; focusing on your mobility, stability, and strength can be a great way to hold your ideal posture throughout the day.
In this article, we’ll discuss our top spine alignment techniques to help you maintain an ideal posture and a healthy spine.
What is Ideal Posture?
Having an ideal posture not only looks good aesthetically but also gives your body the best chance of staying balanced while keeping stress off of your neck, back, hips, knees, and ankles.
So, what is the ideal posture? From a side view, your ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles should all be aligned; from a front view, the center of your eyes should be aligned with the center of your ribcage, pelvis, and directly in between your feet. Knowing which body parts to focus on can help you determine if you’re in your ideal posture.
However, it is important to understand that good posture and good spinal alignment are two different concepts. For example, while someone may appear to have perfect postural alignment from the front, they may have scoliosis. Someone else may have their ears lined up over their shoulders, yet they still suffer from headaches, neck pain, or arm pain due to a loss of the normal alignment in their neck.
The happy union is when you have ideal posture and optimal spinal alignment. When reading the following suggestions, please remember the difference between the two, and always consult with a Chiropractic BioPhysics® practitioner to have both posture and spinal alignment measured, with clear goals for correction of both.
Spine Alignment Techniques for Posture and Spinal Health
The following spine alignment techniques can help you get on track to having an ideal posture and better spinal health:
Interface With Your Technology Correctly
Humans have become inseparable from modern technologies such as cell phones, laptops, TVs, and computers, with many people spending at least four hours per day on their cell phones, and some spending eight hours or more per day staring at a computer screen. Because we’re constantly looking down at a screen or hunching at our computer desks, our posture and spinal alignment can be negatively impacted.
While we cannot avoid these technologies, there are a few things we can do to minimize the effects on our spine and posture, as described below:
- Cell phones: Try lifting your phone to your face instead of bringing your head down to your phone. One additional inch of forward head posture effectively doubles the weight of your head, leading to poor spinal alignment.
- Laptops: While laptops are great for productivity, they can be terrible for spinal alignment. It’s important to avoid long usage when possible; when unavoidable, opt for an ergonomically-correct docking station or hook up the laptop to a monitor. You can also use a laptop stand to raise the monitor and utilize a wireless keyboard and mouse.
- TVs: We all tend to have a favorite spot on the couch in which we spend hours each day or week watching TV. However, depending on the posture we hold while sitting in this spot, we may have to twist our heads to see the TV, or we may find ourselves leaning to one side or hunching forward because the TV is positioned too low. It’s important to be aware of our postural habits, as our bodies will change their spinal alignment to whatever we do daily, for better or for worse.
- Computers: Ensure the monitor is high enough so that you don’t bring your head forward and hunch. It’s also important to ensure the monitor is close enough to your body so that you don’t have to lean in to see it.
Focus on Mobility
One of the biggest aspects of good posture is mobility. Being inactive is one of the most common reasons for poor spinal health, poor posture, and lack of mobility, as the spine relies on movement and activity to stay healthy. Inactivity decreases your spine’s flexibility and core strength. Movement increases blood flow to the spine and increases range of motion, making proper posture and spinal alignment easier to maintain. Incorporating daily stretching or activities like yoga are great ways to increase your mobility. Especially when working from home, we run the risk of being even more immobile than when working in the office.
Strengthen Your Core
Having weak core muscles can negatively impact your lower back by putting more strain on the discs and joints. Doing core exercises like Pilates or implementing a core routine at the gym can help to strengthen your supportive musculature and relieve the tension and strain in your lower back. Keeping your core stable while performing other exercises will also aid this. For example, when doing exercises like squats or lunges, imagine there is a belt around your stomach, and when you breathe in, you’re working to expand your stomach laterally in that imaginary belt—much like how a balloon expands when you blow into it. This breathing technique stabilizes your spine during training at the gym or even when picking up your child at home. Stability balls can also be used to increase core strength.
Be Aware of Your Body
Practicing good posture throughout the day is the best way to help maintain proper spinal alignment. The only way to do this is to be aware of your body, ensuring that you sit or stand upright with your head over your shoulders and your shoulders over your hips in its ideal posture, as discussed earlier. Noticing your posture when lifting, walking, and sleeping can help you focus on having better posture throughout the day and create healthier spinal habits overall. It’s also important to listen to your body when certain areas hurt. This can be a warning sign you need to get the necessary help to bring your spine back into its optimal alignment.
Practice Healthy Sleeping Habits
Another crucial spine alignment technique is to sleep in a way that supports your spine and gives it a chance to rest and relax as you sleep. A big indicator of improper sleep posture is waking up with muscle stiffness or pain. The best sleep posture is lying on your back with a pillow supporting your head and neck. If you sleep on your side, it’s best to keep your head, shoulders, and hips in alignment and avoid lifting one leg higher than the other. It may help to place a small pillow between your legs to take pressure off of your hips. Your head should also rest on a pillow the width of your shoulders to your neck, as this will help to keep your neck even as opposed to bent to one side or the other. It’s also imperative to not sleep on your back with multiple pillows pushing your head forward all night long.
See a Chiropractic BioPhysics® Practitioner
Good posture doesn’t always dictate good spinal health. There are no “simple” postural or spinal alignment techniques. There are great ways to improve strength, mobility, and circulation to your spine, as discussed earlier. Seeing a Chiropractic BioPhysics® practitioner, such as the doctors at PostureWorks, allows you to undergo a comprehensive examination to pinpoint if you have any spinal misalignments and postural deficits that are either going unnoticed or are causing more serious issues like nerve dysfunction and poor circulation. A CBP practitioner will help teach you how to hold your ideal posture throughout the day and can determine which postural exercises and spinal remodeling tractions will help give your body the strength, stability, and endurance it needs.
Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP, is a deeply researched and results-oriented corrective care technique. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health and optimal function while eliminating the source of pain and circulatory and nervous dysfunction. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is conservative, painless, and non-invasive. Contact us today to schedule your appointment or to learn more spine alignment techniques.