Without question, the single most important thing you can do to maintain spinal health is to keep moving! The discs, ligaments and joints of the spine are nourished by motion. Spinal movement improves circulation, allows for the proper intake of oxygen and energy and assists in the removal of waste products. But good posture is the art of proper spinal positioning when you are not moving! The three most important times to think about your postural habits are while sitting, standing and sleeping.

Here is how the normal curves of the spine grow and develop. A baby’s spine is completely flexed for a compact fit inside the uterus. The infant, positioned on his or her stomach, lifts head and neck to develop an arch in the neck (cervical lordosis). In learning to stand upright, the toddler develops the arch in the low back, called the lumbar lordosis. The upper and middle back remain rounded throughout life and form the thoracic kyphosis. These normal spinal curves must be maintained for comfort and good spinal health.

While you are sitting, take care to feel your weight distributed on your “sit bones”. Don’t let yourself rock backwards, or sit with your weight behind your spine. To avoid the forward rolling of your head and shoulders, think about lifting your sternum up to the ceiling. If you’re doing it correctly, you’ll feel as if you have more room to take a deep breath.

While standing, the most common postural mistake is to arch too much in your lower back. Carrying heavy packages, toting a heavy backpack with loose straps, or wearing high heeled shoes all accentuate and stress the lumbar lordosis. To decrease the arch while standing, gently rock the bottom of your pelvis forward.

The role of sleep in spinal health is to support the back in its normal curves while allowing the muscles to rest. If you are a back sleeper, a pillow under your knees will prevent over arching of the low back. Support the curve of your neck with pillows. Side sleepers should make sure to have a pillow that is high enough that the neck and shoulders can rest without tensing.

Regular stretching and exercise, and good attention to postural habits will keep your spine strong, healthy and flexible!


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Dyanna Anfang, D.C.

Anfang Chiropractic, a Professional Corporation
2234 Channing Way, Berkeley, California 94704
510 549-9080