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Worst Habits for Your Spine

We are creatures of habit, as the saying goes. Unfortunately, we don’t always have the best habits when it comes to our health. Be it our sleeping, eating, or fitness habits, there are plenty of ways we can improve our habits for the sake of our overall health.


But today, we’re going to talk about bad habits that deal specifically with our spinal health, and how to address those so you can improve upon them for the future.


7 Habits That Damage Your Spine

1.Staring at Screens All Day

When it comes to the negative effects of looking at screens all day on your spine, this particular bad habit is a double whammy. For one, our bodies crave motion, and when we’re staring at TVs, our laptops or smartphones, odds are we’re doing this stationary. Second, not only are we sitting WAY too much, but we’re also likely using poor posture. So not only are we sitting for hours on end, but we’re also crunching our necks, spines, and shoulders into uncomfortable and damaging positions.


2. Sleeping on the Wrong Mattress

With regard to our body’s overall health, many people count the hours of sleep that they’re getting as a sign of good health. And while there is some truth to that, there are other sleeping habits that you should be aware of if you want a healthy spine. One thing that a lot of us get wrong is the support in our mattress. While it is comfortable, a super soft mattress isn’t the best thing for your spine. To keep your spine healthy, you want to make sure you’ve got a mattress that is firm enough to support your back but soft enough to support your body. After all, you’re spending anywhere from 6 - 8 hours on it at a time.


3. Sitting Too Long

Young or old, student or professional - we sit way too much. And no matter what kind of ergonomic chair you buy or chair stretches you integrate into your day, they’re no substitute for standing up and moving around. To keep your spine from getting compressed, your shoulders from slouching, and hips aligned, the best thing you can do is get up for a few minutes every half hour and walk around.


4. Skipping the Gym

Most people go to the gym so they can either lose weight or stay in shape, but we often don’t think about how regular exercise is critical for a healthy spine. Not only is regular movement good for your spine, but lifting weights gives you the strong stomach and back muscles to properly support your spine. Low-impact exercises like swimming, cycling, and walking can also protect the disks between the vertebrae in your spine.


5. Sleeping on Your Stomach

There’s lots of debate on which sleeping position is best for the spine - back, side, or stomach. And while the ideal sleeping position will vary from person to person, it’s generally agreed upon that sleeping on your stomach can cause more harm than good. If you sleep on your stomach, you’re more likely to toss and turn, while also putting a strain on both your neck and low back. Try sleeping on your back with a pillow underneath your knees, or on your side with a pillow between your legs. This way your low back and hips are supported while you sleep.


6. Smoking

There are plenty of obvious reasons why smoking of any kind is bad for you, but when we’re talking about our spines, smoking:

  • Increases your odds for low back pain

  • Curbs blood flow, even in your spine

  • Breaks down the disks between your vertebrae quicker

  • Weakens bones

  • Slows healing

  • Encourages coughing that can cause back pain

For all these reasons and more, end all smoking habits if health is your top priority.


7. Carrying Overloaded Bags

If you’re a student or a professional, carrying heavy loads in your bag for long periods of time put unnecessary strain on your spine, tire out the very muscles that support your spine, and encourage bad posture habits that can further damage your spine. This is especially true with young children, who shouldn’t be carrying backpacks that weigh more than 20% of their body weight. In addition to making sure you or your child don’t carry bags that weigh too much, also choose bags that have two shoulder straps so that you can distribute the weight evenly, rather than putting it all on one side of your body.

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