A misaligned spine: what is it and what can you do about it?
People sometimes talk about having a misaligned spine, but this can mean different things to different people. It’s important to clarify what we, as chiropractors, mean by the term “misalignment”. There are two ways this term is commonly used, firstly, when a joint is restricted or doesn’t move as well as it should.
Secondly, when there is an abnormal curvature or irregular posture within the spine.
Your spine is an amazing piece of engineering. A biological work of art! It’s a column of bones, called vertebrae, with supporting structures such as discs to absorb shock and allow motion, ligaments to aid stability, and muscles for movement.
In a complex system, though, things can go awry. Imagine driving a car with its wheels out of alignment. Imbalance leads to problems like wear and tear.
If you ignore the issue, or don't know it’s there, it will slowly get worse. The same thing can happen with your spine.
Modern-day humans sit too much, lift and move incorrectly, and have poor posture. We may be ill, overweight, or eat unhealthily. Sometimes we grow in unusual ways. There are genetic reasons for our spinal health, too. These factors can cause strain on our spines, but how do you know if your spine is misaligned?
You might experience symptoms like headaches, migraines, fatigue, and pain in your back, neck, hips or knees. Your joints may feel stiff or inflexible. You may have poor posture; your body should be in a relatively straight line from your head down to your feet. However, sometimes you can’t tell. That’s why a chiropractic assessment is important.
Once you know you have a misalignment, what should you do? First, it's important to realise the process of mending is usually gradual. There’s no instant fix or magic pill, you will need to commit to healing, and be patient. Some key approaches are proper posture, exercise and stretching.
Work on improving your posture. If you work at a desk, ensure your workstation is set up correctly.
Sit less, this helps to ease the pressure on your sit bones and back. When you walk or stand, roll your shoulders up and then back so that you aren’t hunched forward. Keep your chin tucked in slightly so that the back of your neck is long.
Stretch muscles regularly. The hamstrings, hip flexors, and chest muscles commonly become tight.
Strengthen spinal support muscles; your back and core muscles help to keep your spine in alignment. The plank, bridges, crunches, and a wonderful exercise called the bird-dog help. The specific exercises you begin with will depend on your ability. Keep moving as much as possible too!
A healthy spine is crucial for your overall health. We can provide a spinal assessment and offer the best type of treatment for your spine. We can also teach you mobility exercises, and offer nutritional and lifestyle advice.