Think a chiropractor just cracks your back and sends you on your way? Not true. A chiropractor’s goal is not only to relieve pain, but to keep you pain-free between adjustments. The spinal manipulations used to correct spinal misalignments can relieve painful pressure in the neck, back and head, but chiropractors know that to maintain wellness, these simple tips apply to keeping the back and neck in alignment and muscles reducing nerve pain.
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Start your day with a stretch
How you start your day can help determine how much your back ends up complaining. Before you get out of bed, Barbara Rosinsky uses these 10 tips-from cutting out sit-ups to crossing your legs-to keep you free of back or neck pain between visits.
Stop doing sit-ups
Yes, strong abs are key to back pain relief. But if you have back pain, traditional crunches and sit-ups actually make the pain worse, says Andrew Bang, D. C., of the Cleveland Clinic’s Centre for Integrative Medicine. Instead, hold yourself in a yoga plank on your stomach, then lift your body so you’re balancing on your hands and toes, like a push-up. Hold the position for as long as you can, increasing the time with each attempt.
Side planks will also strengthen your core. From the plank position, rotate your body to the left so that you are balancing on your extended left arm and on your left foot (either stack your right foot on the top left or place your right foot down if necessary for balance). Reach your right arm up. Hold it as long as you can and then switch sides.
Stretch out those hamstrings
“I have more patients with back pain who sit at a desk all day than manual laborers,” Dr. Bang says. Our hamstrings are discouraged from sitting in a chair for so many hours, Bang says. “When we try to get up from sitting, our hamstrings pull on our pelvis and cause misalignments in the spine and all kinds of pain.” But a few simple stretches can counteract that effect. If you’re lying on your back, wrap a yoga belt around your foot and pull your leg up, keeping it straight, feel the stretch along the back of your leg, and then try stretching your leg over your groin – over your left leg to your right and vice versa – and then out and away from your body toward your hips and work up to holding the stretches for 90 seconds.
Stop staring at your smartphone
Look at your phone. Notice what you just did? In all likelihood, your chin went to your chest and your neck became C-shaped. That’s bad for your neck, Bang says. “There are 12-15 pounds of weight in the human head,” he says. “The farther away our head is from our shoulders, looking at our smartphones, the more muscles are used. The bones and the discs start to break down and you get pain. “This is true for all handheld devices like iPads. To save your neck, brace your arms so you are looking straight ahead at your phone. If you use an e-reader in bed, hold it on your bent knees instead of your lap.