However, we still pay very little attention to looking after our spines until of course it is too late. Part of the problem is that, unlike our teeth which get plenty of attention, we can't see our spines. As a nation is living longer and longer and very often we are outliving the health of our spines. The last few decades can, for many, be extremely uncomfortable, we can only feel as young as our spines allow us to feel. We need to understand what our spines actually do.
They allow us to stand straight and tall; they provide us with flexibility with their 24 joints and they provide protection to our central nervous system. Surely then, doesn't this make our poor neglected spine at least as important as our teeth? We certainly can't replace our spine if it wears out, so where does that leave us? Ask anyone with a back problem: pain and stiffness, reduced range of motion, tension across the shoulders and upper back, pain and numbness in the arms or legs and headaches. Yes headaches! Few people realize that a large percentage of headaches come from the neck.
We live in a gravity environment and the resultant forces on the spine are both substantial and constant. It is how well we live in gravity that determines how our spines will age. If we have good posture and have good movement we grow good strong bone and have healthy joints. The discs within our spines obtain their nutrition by the pumping action of moving vertebrae. Where there is little movement the discs degenerate. If we have poor posture the resultant forces also cause accelerated degeneration and aging within our spines. Our spines are protected by surrounding muscles which operate reflexively, consequently, the coordination and speed of these reflexes can be improved greatly to reduce incidences of back pain. We also know that people who have flexible healthy spines feel much better in themselves and are able to pursue their lifestyles to the full for much longer.
Unfortunately poor posture is increasingly becoming an aspect of modern life. We spend too much time bent forward in flexion whether it be due to working at computers, driving, sitting slumped at desks or nursing babies. However, specific exercises and often treatment where necessary can do much to reverse this problem. The body is a miracle of evolution and if the nervous system encased within the spine is allowed to express itself unimpeded by these stresses, then the body as a whole can function more efficiently.