Happy new year everyone! All of us at Complete Chiropractic wish you the very best for 2019!
So January is here and many of us are thinking about new year’s resolutions – don’t get us wrong, we love the idea of committing to something new and following through… but lets be honest, how often do we really manage?! The problem is usually that people set themselves tasks which are far too complex, too costly, or just to vague. Today, here are some suggestions for some spine-friendly resolutions which are manageable, affordable and which you can start today!
1 – Fix your lifting technique!
We’ve written a lot on this blog about correct lifting technique – if you can, why not go the whole hog and make a resolution to start lifting properly all the time! For many people, remembering to lift properly all the time might be a little unrealistic however – after all, we often end up lifting without even really noticing. Good “spinal hygiene” is something which takes time and practice to develop.
Here’s a more realistic resolution – Just stop twisting! Twisting the wrong way is one of the easiest ways to damage your spine. When lifting, stand as close to the object as you can, and use your legs and knees instead of your back or upper body to lift up the item. Always keep your head down and your back straight. If an item is too heavy for you, ask for help instead of keeping on trying to lift it – but above all lift straight and do not twist! Just making this minor change can significantly reduce the chances of injuring yourself, even if the rest of your technique is imperfect.
2 – Improve your flexibility
It’s January so of course the Gym is currently filled with people who are going to get fit this year – some of them will manage, and if that is you then great! The problem is that most people over commit on the fitness front and find themselves unable to keep up.
If you do just one thing this January, why not target something manageable, but impactful – think about working on your flexibility! Ideally, you should stretch your back and neck every day, since maintaining your flexibility will help to keep your joints functioning as they should – in turn this will reduce the risk of damage and injury. Don’t stop there however, a full body stretching program can go a long way to reducing the risk of injury across the board. Unlike the “full body transformation” goal, you can take on this little change at home and with no equipment at all, and all in less than 15 minutes a day.
Why not ask your chiropractor for some specialised stretching advice on your next visit?
3 – Get better sleep
Getting a better quality of sleep Is a common goal … especially amongst new parents and those with young children. For this reason, it’s also often an unrealistic one! It’s also true that for many people, thinking “I must get 8 hours of good sleep” actually just seems to keep you awake.
Instead, why not focus on quality, rather than quantity – perhaps you can’t ensure a nice long rest, but you can take steps to ensure that what sleep you do get is refreshing and allows you to wake up pain free.
If possible, try to sleep on your side, as sleeping on your stomach can put too much pressure on your spine. If your mattress is very old, you might want to consider replacing it. Although there is a lot of marketing out there from mattress and bed companies, research does actually show that proper back support while lying down distributes the force of gravity evenly across the back, keeping the spine in a neutral position and reducing pain.
Finally, you might want to combine this goal with the stretching routine suggested in the last point – stretching can reduce pain but also help you relax before bed. However, do not attempt a stretching program first thing in the morning – your spine is most vulnerable at this point.
4 – Stay hydrated
There’s an almost infinite number of good reasons to ensure you’re drinking plenty of water – but from a spinal perspective, doing so will help you maintain the soft tissue elasticity and fluidity in your joints. Proper hydration is also critical for effective exercise and may even aid in weight loss!
The trick here is to store and drink your water from a measurable container, and to distribute your consumption of water throughout the day. Aim for at least 2 litres a day – but keep in mind that drinking one litre in the morning, and one litre at night can still leave you at risk of dehydration throughout the day. Grab yourself a water bottle, and sip throughout the day.
5 – See a chiropractor!
Finally making an appointment to banish your back, neck, or shoulder pain might be the most impactful resolution you could make this year – over 80% of us will experience back pain at some point, but there’s no need to suffer in silence. There’s a million good reasons to grab yourself a chiropractic consultation in our new patient special this January, but if you’re a feeling a bit lazy… (and let’s be honest, many of us are) tacking your pain this year is a great option… just book an appointment, and let us take care of the hard work! Resolution success!
 J Can Chiropr Assoc 2005;49:96-10 I