If we took a magnifying glass and held it up to our lives, we’d probably notice that the majority of what we do is ultimately dictated by the habits we build. And whether they’re good or bad, they play a critical role in our overall health and wellness.
While we could talk about our eating, sleeping, or exercising habits, today we’re going to talk about bad habits that many of us are guilty of, and how they directly hurt our spine and nervous system.
Take a look at these 7 bad habits for your spine. Are you guilty of doing any of these? If so, your spine is paying the price.
7 of the Worst Habits for Your Spinal Health
1. Choosing the Wrong Mattress
When it comes to sleeping habits, many people only worry about how many hours of solid sleep they’re getting each night, and while quality sleep is important, it’s not the only sleeping habit we should be worried about. Many of us are guilty of buying the wrong type of mattress for our back’s health. Believe it or not, the super soft mattress advertised on TV isn’t the best thing for you. While it’s super comfortable, it doesn’t provide your spine with the firm support it needs. You should choose a mattress that is firm enough to provide support, but soft enough to fit comfortably with your body. Because keep in mind, you are spending roughly between 6 and 8 hours on your mattress at a time.
2. Skipping Out on Exercise
Gym attendance is usually dictated by our goals to either lose weight or stay in good shape, and although these are admirable reasons to go to the gym, there are others to consider. For instance, regular movement, lifting weights, and low-impact activities give you the strong back and stomach muscles to support your spine, as well as protect the disks along your spinal column. So lift those weights, go swimming, take a bike ride, or even make time for a 30-minute walk.
3. Sitting for Long Periods of Time
Whether we sit in an office, classroom, or behind the wheel, one thing is certain - we as a society are sitting way too much for long periods of time. And it doesn’t matter what type of spine-friendly chair you buy on Amazon or chair stretches that you integrate into your daily routine, none of it can take the place of standing up and moving around. Getting up for a few minutes every hour or so has many benefits, including relieving pressure on your spine, keeping your shoulders from slouching, and helping your hips stay aligned.
4. Using Technology Too Much
TV, laptops, tablets, eReaders, smartphones, and handheld video games - these are just a few of the screens that we stare at for the majority of our day. This is a particularly troubling bad habit, because all of us - even young children - are guilty of it. Staring at screens all day has several negative effects on your spine, but the two main ones have to do with us sitting for long periods of time, and using poor posture. When you stare at screens the majority of the time, you’re putting way too much strain on your neck, shoulders, and spine.
5. Sleeping on Your Stomach
In addition to choosing the wrong mattress, another sleeping habit to think about with regard to your spinal health is your sleeping position. The great debate around sleeping positions - back, side, or stomach - typically agrees that sleeping on your stomach can cause more harm than good, given that you’re more likely to toss and turn at night, as well as put unnecessary pressure on your neck and low back. Shoot to sleep on your back or your side, with a pillow behind your knees if you choose the former position, or a pillow between your legs if you choose the latter position.
6. Carrying Heavy Loads
Students, parents, professionals - we’re definitely all guilty of this. We put way too much weight in our bags, and to top it all off, we also don’t carry it the proper way. With kids especially, they shouldn’t be carrying backpacks that are more than 20% of their body weight. Additionally, significant loads should be placed into a bag with two shoulder straps, so that we’re not stacking all of that weight on just one side of our body.
Since we’re talking about our spinal health today, we don’t need to go into the obvious reasons for why smoking is bad for your health. But with regard to our spines, smoking is bad because it increases your odds for low back pain, curbs blood flow, breaks down the disks in your spine, weakens your bones, and encourages coughing that can result in back pain. Help your spine out, as well as the rest of your body, by getting rid of this bad habit as soon as possible.