You try to do all the right things when it comes to taking care of your spine. You lift the right way, exercise, practice good posture, stretch, drink plenty of water, and take frequent breaks to walk around if you are seated for an extended period of time. Those are all excellent habits to keep, but there is something else that you should be doing – and it is one of the most overlooked and undervalued health practices. Rest.
Running on Empty: The Silent Epidemic
Stress can do severe damage to your emotional and mental health, but it can also hurt your body as well. Many people carry stress in their lower backs which means that when stress goes up it can result in lower back pain. It can also make you more sensitive to pain.
It is estimated that 66 percent of all doctor visits have a stress related component. What’s more, 50 percent of people who suffer from stress rate it as moderate to high. We live in a culture that makes it commonplace to run on empty. The problem with that is sooner or later you are going to crash and your body will bear the brunt.
Rest is important for helping you alleviate and manage stress, but recent studies show that 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep. There is another reason to get your seven to nine hours in, though, that is directly related to spinal health.
What Rest can do for you Spinal Health
When you rest you give your body time to replenish depleted stores of energy. Adequate sleep improves your immune function, memory, metabolism, learning, and healing. You will be more alert, happier, and have more energy. It is also very beneficial is you are trying to lose weight.
Excess weight can put pressure on your spine and cause it to curve, causing back pain. This is especially true if you carry your weight in your abdomen. That extra weight in the front pulls your spine into a sway back curve making it painful to stand for long periods of time.
When you lay down and rest you allow your entire spine, associated muscles, and other parts of your body to rejuvenate and relax. You probably don’t realize it, but your muscles in your back and abdomen work all day to keep your body properly supported. Even when sitting there are muscles engaged. Laying down allows all of those muscles to finally relax.
Rest also allows your spinal discs to rehydrate. The spine is made up of fluid filled discs that sit between the vertebrae, acting as a cushion. As you go about your day, thanks to gravity, your discs become compressed. This compression causes the disc to lose fluid (which is about 88 percent water). This can cause pain if the discs are not properly rehydrated – and that is a two-step process of drinking adequate water and getting enough rest.
Drinking water will put the fluids into your body, but as long as you are upright, the compression will continue. Laying down to go to sleep takes that pressure off of your spine so there is no compression and the body can naturally rehydrate the discs. A few hours here and there is not really effective because it does not give the body enough time to do its job. This means that you need to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
Along with all the other great, healthy reasons to get a good night’s sleep, you not have one more to add to the list. A healthy spine will keep you standing tall and help keep you mobile, It is important to do all you can to take care of it.