Dr. Anand Blog
December 16, 2016
No matter where you are in life, or what journey the previous year has taken you on, the coming of the New Year often signifies a clean slate, a fresh start, and the best form of motivation to finally make those positive changes for your health you’ve been thinking about, or putting off. For some people, it’s a desire to lower their stress level, some want to get outdoors more, and others want to transform their bodies towards better physical health. No matter the resolution, they all share one common theme, and that is changing your health and your life for the BETTER. When we think of becoming healthier, spine health may not be one of the first things that springs to mind as a priority, but even the most standard New Year’s resolutions can lend themselves to a healthier spine.
Now, this easily ranks highest for the most popular New Year’s resolution around (especially after a little over-indulgence during the holidays). Most everyone vows to shed a few extra pounds and get into better shape. But did you know that shedding a bit of that unwanted weight will not only make you look and feel better, it will reduce the extra stress on your spine as well? It’s true. Losing as little as 10 pounds can exponentially reduce the amount of pressure on your spine, strengthening your bone structure and lowering your chances for injuries such as pinched nerves or herniated discs.
It’s important to note that not all people go about losing weight in the same way. Some change their diet, some hit the gym, and some do a combination of both. Losing weight will benefit your spine, but daily exercise deserves a category all to itself. Strengthening the lower back and core muscles in a regular workout routine will allow for much stronger support of the spine and take the pressure off the lower back. Try adding in a little aerobic exercise every day as well. A 20-minute walk around the block will do to improve flexibility and nourish the spine.
Choosing healthier foods will not only help you to lose weight, but will supply the spine with calcium and other vitamins and minerals it needs for optimum health and strength. Which foods are healthiest? The best rule of thumb is to stick to whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and sources of lean protein. Try to avoid processed foods, or foods with a long list of chemical ingredients. Nourishing your body with these healthy foods will supply the spine with calcium and other vitamins to protect it from weakening due to osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
Whether you’re looking for relief from the daily stress of life or you want to improve flexibility, you may get both from yoga, with the additional perk of spine health. Gentle yoga stretching lengthens the muscles of the back, allowing for flowing movement and at the same time calms the mind and slows the breathing – which is a great alternative to pain medications for chronic back pain sufferers. Improve your strength and reduce your pain all at once? Sounds like a deal. Just be sure to talk to your doctor before you start any new exercise routine.
As we usher in the hope and promise that a new year brings, make the commitment to yourself to improve your body and your spine by adopting some of these feel-good changes. I wish you a happy and HEALTHY New Year!