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How does the spine support our bodies?

The spine is our body’s central support structure. It keeps us upright and connects the different parts of our skeleton to each other: our head, chest, pelvis, shoulders, arms and legs. Although the spine is made up of a chain of bones, it is flexible due to elastic ligaments and spinal disks.

1. Let your spine really rest while sleeping.

While you’re lying down, all the structures in your spine that have worked hard all day finally have an opportunity to relax and be rejuvenated. To make the most of this time, you need a mattress and pillows that allow your spine to rest in a supported and comfortable way.

2. Exercise your core to strengthen abs and back muscles.

Your core muscles—located in your lower back and abdomen—need to be strong and supple in order to support your spine and take pressure off your lower back.

3. Your shoes need to support your spine.

Whether you’re walking for exercise or just to get where you’re going, the shoes you wear play an important role in supporting your lower back. Good shoes provide a supportive base that helps the spine and body remain in alignment. For example, make sure the area of the shoe that fits the back of your heel is snug, but not overly tight. A good fit prevents over pronation or supination—or too much rolling of the foot to the outside or inside.

4. Enjoy the benefits of massage.

A good back massage has a number of therapeutic benefits, such as increasing blood flow, loosening tight muscles and connective tissues, and boosting feelings of relaxation. While a massage does not need to be vigorous to be soothing, some evidence suggests that a moderate-level massage offers more stress-relief benefits than a light-touch massage.

5. Practice good ergonomics while sitting—and limit total sitting time.

The discs in your lower spine are loaded more while sitting than standing, so long periods of sitting can create or aggravate a painful back condition.4 Moreover, when sitting at a desk and/or looking at a computer screen, our natural tendency is to slouch and lean forward, stressing our lumbar discs even more.

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