Most of us know that as we age, it is important to keep moving. Whether that is full on, hardcore exercise, or gentle walking is not important. What is important is to keep every joint in the body mobile. This includes not only the joints of the extremities:
But also the joints of the spine. The spine consists of 7 cervical vertebrae each with 4 or more joints, 12 thoracic vertebrae with 6 or more joints and 5 lumbar vertebrae with 4 or more joints. The spine has over 120 joints, which can tighten with bad posture, overuse, pregnancy, and/or poor technique with exercise.
We are trained as early as pre-school to sit still. If you look at children today, most are hunched over a desk or table to learn (class), study (homework/library), eat, or play some sort of game. This continues into adulthood as we tend to work at a desk or watch TV. All of this time spent in one position can lead to degenerative changes in the joints of the spine.
We need to move. Spinal mobility can be improved by standing up and moving around. I recommend to my patients to get up at least once per hour and move around the office and do some back bends and neck rotation exercises to help keep the spine limber. (click here for some neck exercises)
When your spine is tight, it can lead to the muscles of the spine getting tight as well. This muscle tightness can lead to back and/or neck pain, shoulder pain, and even headaches and TMJ (temporalmandibular joint) pain.
If you are concerned about back pain and joint mobility, your Physical Therapist can help design a program for you to stay mobile as well as provide manual therapy to increase joint mobility of the spine.