When I teach people how to take care of their backs, I first explain what the lower back needs (lumbar vertebrae).Then I move up to the thoracic vertebrae and finally the cervical vertebrae. It is important to understand that you cannot fix a problem in the thoracic or cervical vertebrae unless you begin by building the back upward from the coccyx, sacrum and lumbar vertebrae. The vertebrae need to lengthen upward, become aligned, and decompressed. This means that aligning and creating optimal space between vertebrae from the lowest part is essential for the rest of the spine to be able to align, and decompress and lengthen upwards. You cannot just begin working in the thoracic vertebrae and think they can adjust without beginning the unwinding and aligning from below.
Posture plays a key role in the health of the spine. Without improving the alignment of the body from the feet to the pelvis and from the base of the spine it becomes very hard to align and lengthen the entire back upwards. There are so many ways you can begin to be more mindful about how you stand, sit and move. Everything you do can have a direct effect on the health of your back.
The muscles of your back include the more superficial muscles; the latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids, and elevator scapula. These muscles connect your spine from your pelvis to the shoulders, shoulder blades, neck and skull. Then there is another layer that is slightly deeper including the quadratus lumborum, posterior inferior serratus and posterior superior serratus, that connect pelvis/spine to ribs and vertebrae to ribs. The deepest layers connect along the spine from vertebrae to ribs, vertebrae to vertebrae in a network securing and protecting the spine while also facilitating movement of the vertebrae. These are called the erector spinae.
When your back is strong, aligned, flexible and toned all of these muscles do their share of the work. When the body begins to build up tension and the spine and back begin to tighten and lose mobility these layers of muscles actually can begin to tighten and aid in the compression of the vertebrae and back. When these muscles are working hard gripping to support the back, over time all sorts of problems can occur. The most common type diagnosis is a herniated or bulging disc or a pinched nerve. This occurs because there has been compression and misalignment for a very long time and finally the muscles supporting the spine simply cannot do this any more. The healthy space between 2 vertebrae diminishes and the disc slips out. There is nowhere else for the disc to go except out to one side or the other. Bulging or herniated discs can be either very painful or not. If not treated to decompress and heal the inflammation, over time a vertebra sitting on another vertebra without any tissue in between can slowly form a fusion of the 2 or a wearing out of the vertebrae. There are many forms of spinal problems that are very common and most of these can be avoided. You just have to learn what you need to do to maintain a healthy back your entire life and do it. Check out the Yamuna Save Your Back Kit. This is a must for everyone!
Stand up straight! This means that your head and neck are not in front of your body. It means your shoulders are as lined up as possible with your head, neck and chest not collapsing down and forward.