Over the last 18 months, lockdowns and restrictions have become far too familiar. Many Australians are currently in lockdown or spending more time at home in order to help protect themselves and those in their community, but that doesn’t mean we have to let our spinal health and overall wellbeing lapse.
In these unusual times, it is important to remember to put your health first and to keep your life and daily habits as normal, healthy and productive as possible. If you find yourself in lockdown or limiting time outside your home, try following these simple tips to care for your spine at home.
Take breaks from sitting
Sitting for long periods without a break – whether it’s catching up on your favourite series, reading a book or working away on your computer – can affect your postural health, even when you exercise regularly. When you sit for too long and too often, the natural curve in your back deteriorates, increasing pressure in your back and weakening the core stabilising muscles in your back.
While it is easy to lose track of time at home, it’s important to remember to give both our minds and bodies a much-needed break. Every 30 minutes or so get up and do a little stretch or something quick and active like 10 squats or star-jumps. As long as you’re moving!
Every hour, take a five minute break by going for a walk around the block or making a hot drink, anything to get you up, moving and away from your screen. Complete the three-minute stretching program on the Straighten Up app during this time as well. The program is designed to improve your spinal health, posture and overall wellbeing, and is a great tool to help you move during long periods at home.
Walk 30 minutes a day
Brisk walking is a great way to improve your spinal health and overall wellbeing. Walking can help increasing your heart and lung fitness, muscle strength and endurance and contributes to a naturally upright posture.
Set the goal of trying to walk for 30 minutes a day or at least try and hit 10,000 steps daily. Over time, try and increase this number as your walking improves. Walking is also a great way to socialise with friends and enjoy the great outdoors, while exploring new walking trails near you.
The Just Start Walking app is a great tool to help get you walking today. The app has a number of features, including tracking distance and pace of walk, setting goals, daily reminders, ability to save walks, connect to Spotify and so much more!
Monitor your screen time
While mobile phones, tablets and laptops are great for staying connected to everyone and everything, looking down at devices too often and for long periods can have a negative impact on our neck and spine. Here are some helpful tips to help keep your spine happy when using your mobile device:
- Take a break: It is easy to forget so set an alarm on your phone as a reminder.
- Raise your device: As close to eye level is best, so you won’t have to tilt your head forward and strain your neck.
- Stretch your neck: If you’re not sure which stretches can help improve your spinal health, the 3-minute stretching program on the Straighten Up app is designed to do just that.
- Work on your posture: It is important to work on a maintaining a good posture. Being mindful about this will contribute greatly to your spinal health. The Straighten Up app has an in-built reminder function to help you manage your posture.
While there is no need to shun technology all together, why not set aside a short technology detox in your day? You could unwind with a book, cook a meal or enjoy a relaxing cuppa with no tech in sight.
Stretching and performing spinal exercises can help you improve your spinal health and the way your body functions. These exercises can also help improve posture, stabilise core muscle groups and enhance health.
The exercise program in the ACA’s Straighten Up app is designed for people of all ages and can be completed anytime, anywhere. The exercise program only takes a few minutes to complete, so can easily be added to your everyday routine.
Sleeping is important for our bodies to heal, rest and be ready for the day ahead. But did you know that the positions you sleep in at night may be doing more harm than good? Here are the most common sleeping positions and how to adjust them for better spinal health:
- Stomach sleeping: Bad news for stomach sleepers, this is considered to be the worst sleeping posture and is not recommended. It puts unnecessary pressure on your neck due to twisting your head and the straining of your lower back. It can also cause pressure on your chest.
- Side sleeping: This is generally considered a better sleeping position for a healthy spine. Try lying with your lower leg fairly straight and bend your upper leg or try placing a pillow between your knees and bending both your knees and hips slightly to position your pillow. This will reduce pressure placed on the spine and provide alignment.
- Back sleeping: Sleeping on your back can also help maintain a healthy spine. For extra support, place a pillow under your knees to keep to the natural curve of your spine and reduce strain on your lower back. It is also important to ensure your head pillow is the correct height to reduce strain on the curves of your neck.
Old mattresses can be contributing to already existing back pain or incite pain to present itself, so supporting yourself with an up-to-date mattress as your body moves through the stages of sleep helps support your back and get those crucial hours of sleep. The ACA endorsed SleepMaker CHIRO Bedding Collection can provide the comfort and support your spine needs throughout the night.
While lockdown or limiting time outside your home can feel a little isolating, friends and colleagues are usually only a phone call away. Utilise technology to stay connected with people by having virtual video meetings, or even just checking in with friends or family for a casual chat. Talking to those who are home as well can help you feel like you’re not alone in this.