Spinal Mobility

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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:

  • Toes
  • Ankles
  • Knees
  • Hips
  • Fingers
  • Wrists
  • Elbows
  • ShouldersThe lumbar region in regards to the rest of th...

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.

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The Importance of Good Posture

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Advantage Physical Therapy has two clinics; Mercer Island, WA and Redmond, WA.  Also in these communities are Amazon, Google, Microsoft, AT&T, and T-Mobile.  In this area, a lot of people work in the tech industry and are therefore sitting at a computer for most of the day.  Add to this today’s instant news cycle and we can expect a lot of problems.  Almost everyone I know has a cell phone, tablets are becoming more common, and a majority of people communicate with email at work.

This means a lot of people spend a lot of time with poor posture staring at misaligned screens that might be too small for what they are doing.  They may be squinting to read small writing on the latest iPhone or Android device.  All of this can result in postural deficits.  Anyone with a posture issue may have some of the following issues:

  • Low Back Pain
  • Neck Pain
  • Temporomandibular Dysfunction (Jaw)
  • Tension Headaches
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Illiotibial Band Syndrome
  • Piriformis Syndrome

    POSITION OF SKELETON IN GOOD AND POOR POSTURE ...

    POSITION OF SKELETON IN GOOD AND POOR POSTURE - NARA - 515194 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With the rising use of mobile devices and computers, it is important to maintain good posture.  As a species, we are not meant to be hunched over a desk.  Follow these tips to help maintain your posture and prevent posture related injuries.

  • Take a break:  Get up from your desk at least one time every hour, even if it is just to get up and get some water.
  • Position your monitor:  The top of your computer monitor should be at eye level when you are sitting up straight.
  • Lumbar support:  Prevent decreased lumbar curvature by adding support in your chair for your low back.
  • Standing work stations:  By standing, we can alleviate some pressure on the spine and increase our posture

It is good to know that your physical therapist can correct most of these problems with some manual therapy, stability and strengthening regimens, and an ergonomic evaluation.