You may not notice it from day to day, but as you go about your daily routine, the persistent forces generated from walking and sitting put excessive stress on your spine. This is known to cause compression of the discs in your back, think of them like car tires between your bones. When the tires go flat, the stress gets put on the rims, in this case pressure on your nerves which are not designed to handle that much stress. Over time, this leads to back pain, stiffness, spine-related issues such as ligament laxity, knee pain, and other physical ailments.
One of the major questions we get in our practice is about spinal decompression. Particularly is there a benefit to using an inversion table. Most people would benefit from using spinal decompression as part of their spinal hygiene routine in some form or another. It is critical to understand that before engaging in any type of traction or even regular exercise for that matter, all the joints and bones of your spine must be moving. Otherwise, the risk for injury is astronomical.
Fortunately, there are exercises you can do at home or the gym including many that are beginner-friendly or don’t require equipment.
Spinal Decompression Options:
Inversion Table: This is a very popular mechanism for spinal decompression. Typically it is performed with your ankles attached to boots. While this can be effective, a better choice would be to have the belt attachment option around your waist. This will allow for a more effective form of traction to take place because the pelvis is stabilized yielding a stretch to the muscle that attach to it as well as the disc of the spine. Think of your lower back as a suspension bridge hanging from your ribs and pulling the pelvis away from it.
Bands: The Spud Inc. Big Ray Strap is your most powerful tool for combating low-back and hip pain. It will also improve mobility. It has applications before and after exercise. It allows you to hang upside down creating the pivotal traction necessary to distract the pelvis away from the spine stretching the lower back and gives you an advantageous position from which to develop your hip mobility.Plus, you can also use the straps under your shoulder for an extra stretch plus have some fun a swing like when you were a kid!
Active Decompression: Movement can also help decompress the spine. What is known as a belt squat can simply be performed by placing a belt around your waist with weight attached to it and squatting. There is also a piece of machinery in gyms that does this too. The belt squat and/ or machine is one of the best ways to perform loaded squats without placing loads on your spine.
It allows for faster recovery due to unloading of the spine and is a great option if you have an upper body injury and can’t perform a traditional squat with a bar on your back. It’s great for lower back problems because the downward pull of the belt provides a traction like effect to the spine (great for lower back problems).
Spinal Flossing Hygiene Options
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Interlace your fingers and bring your arms overhead, making your elbows completely straight.
- Reach toward the ceiling and hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.
- Repeat 4-5 times.
- Get on your hands and knees.
- Arch your spine up to the ceiling and squeeze in your stomach. Tilt your chin down to your chest.
- Then arch your spine down while lifting your hips and shoulders. Lift your chin toward the ceiling.
- Repeat 15-20 times, holding each position for about 10 seconds.
Upward- Facing Dog
- Lie on your yoga mat in the prone position. Lie facedown on your stomach with your feet about a hip-width apart.
- Adjust your hands. Inhale and push up.
- Engage the legs. Distribute your weight.
- Push your sternum forward and activate your arm muscles.
- Bend the elbows, release, and rest.
Lastly the Arch and Curl
- Find a seated position with feet firmly on the floor, shoulders aligned with your hips, abdominals engaged, and spine upright and alert.
- From this upright position, arch the spine so that your eyes look diagonally up and your head and tailbone draw an arc behind you.
- Return to your upright spine, and then do the opposite, which is a curl.
- Round your spine so that your eyes look diagonally downward and your head and tailbone draw an arc in front of your body. Return to your upright spine.
- Do this arch and curl four times each side, making sure to inhale in your upright spine and exhale when you move into your position.
Your physical well-being plays a vital role indecreasing your risk of physical ailments. Having a good exercise regimen can help manage your weight, improve your mobility, strengthen your joints and bones, and so much more. Try incorporating some of these exercises into your daily routine – you may be surprised to find how much they boost your mood as well.