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Kimberly Burns, OTR/L, CLT – Perspectives – REAL Health

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Spinal Alignment

By Kimberly Burns, OTR/L, CLT

Dr. Roger Sperry, Nobel Prize recipient for brain research, says “90% of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by the movement of the spine”. Only 10 percent has to do with thinking, metabolism, and healing. When your spine is out of alignment, your brain will take energy from your thinking, metabolism, and immune function to deal with abnormal gravity/posture relationships and processing. With regular exercise and knowledge of how the spine is supposed to be aligned, the body will have a better chance to work and function correctly.

Exercise along with activity modification can help reduce improper alignment and nerve damage. Below are simple changes and exercises that will have lasting benefits for your posture and overall health.

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Kim’s Top Spinal Alignment Strategies

1. Modify your sleeping position: We spend one third of our lives sleeping. The best position to sleep is on our back. It is easier for our head, neck, and spine to align and keep it in a neutral position. Limit pillow use to just one. A cervical pillow is best and can be relatively inexpensive. This aides in maintaining correct cervical alignment. I also like to use a small towel roll under the low back for additional support. If you are a side sleeper, place pillows between your legs and arms to avoid excessive twisting. It is also recommended to place a small pillow under your waist to avoid unwanted curving.

2. Use good body mechanics during daily activities: Too easily we forget good mechanics with simple activities. We reach items from the ground without bending our knees, we lift items without having them directly in front of us and do not bring them close to the body, and many of us drive without utilizing the headrest. Practicing good body mechanics when we are cooking, cleaning, grooming at the sink and even crossing our legs at the ankles versus full leg crossing can make a huge difference in keeping the spine safe.

3. Maintain a good upright seated position keeping hips and knees at the same level. Sit up with your back straight, your shoulders back, chin tucked gently. All three normal back curves should be present while sitting. A small, rolled-up towel or a lumbar roll can be used to help you maintain the normal curves in your back. Distribute your body weight evenly on both hips. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Try to avoid sitting in the same position for more than 30 minutes. Adjust your chair height and work station so you can sit up close to your work with your monitor directly in front of you. For written tasks, using a slanted board will help with vision and good wrist positioning to reduce risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Kim’s Top Exercise for the Spinal Alignment

Chin Tuck on the Wall
This exercise assists in realigning the natural cervical curve in our spine. Forward head posture occurs when sitting at a desk, driving in a car and texting! The shoulders round forward, the head droops down and the back ends up curved, stretching out the small muscles of the back meant for spinal stability. Over time, this can bring the whole spine out of alignment. Chin retraction helps restore normal head position on top of the spine while expanding the chest and realigning the entire spine.
Begin standing approximately a foot from the wall with the middle of your head on the wall, chin tucked/retracted and parallel to the floor. Press into the wall gently so that only the top of the shoulder blades are touching the wall. Relax the arms and keep palms turned away from the wall. Gently brace the abdominals to keep the pelvic bone aligned and stable. Take a long breath in through the nose, expanding the low ribs and chest. Exhaling slowly through the mouth with a “haa” sound or Ujjayi breath through the nose, as you are doing this, press the back of the head and hairline into the wall about 30-50%, bringing the shoulder blades off the wall and inch or two. Continue to maintain this pose attending to good shoulder blade positioning back and down. Keep your abdominals and buttocks tightened gently, feet flat on the floor pressing base of the feet and heels into the ground, and maintain a slight bend in the knees to avoid pressing back to far. Continue breaths for 30-60 seconds. Alternately, you can return to starting position at the end of the exhale and repeat for a set of 10-15 reps. After performing with neck in neutral, turn your head to the right to perform exercise then switch to the left pressing ear and jawline towards the wall. Advanced: Add an alternate leg lift maintaining pelvic stability.
This article is for informational purposes only. Consult a physician before performing this or any exercise program.

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kim-burns-november-2016-210Kimberly Burns, OTR/L, CLT, is an Occupational Therapist with over 14 years’ experience working with clients ranging from infants to the elderly. She has always had passion for wellness and what she could do at home for herself to manage pain and delay disease processes. Her recent certification in Lymphedema Therapy has provided her further incentive to focus her business around preventing disease and halting its progression. Kimberly Burns, OTR/L, CLT – (215) 499.0444 – Kim.Burns@SensoryIntuition.comwww.SensoryIntuition.com.

Copyright © 2017 REAL Exclusive Magazine www.getrealexclusive.com
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