how to have healthy back
Having a healthy back is central to feeling great in your physical body. The majority of common every day discomforts of the human body originate in the back and/or spine. By keeping the muscles of the neck, back and hips healthy and happy you can greatly increase the performance and overall state of wellness in your physical body. Further, the activities that keep those muscles happy will generally increase circulation to your entire body and improve the function of all body systems.
I have found that the muscles are happiest when three basic needs are met. The muscles need strengthening, stretching and cleansing on a regular basis.
The most productive and healthy way to strengthen the body is through weight bearing exercises as practiced in traditional yoga. Light weights are okay but you must stretch every muscle you constrict and this is where many people run into problems. I get a lot of weight lifters coming in to my office in pain because their muscles are in spasm. Contract relax. That is what you need. If you just contract contract contract without giving the muscle any “relax” the muscle is out of balance. By practicing weight bearing yoga postures you can adjust the weight with modifications and all your muscles work together instead of focusing on one group or one specific muscle. So a balanced strength is achieved instead of a localized strength.
Another fantastic way to strengthen the entire body all at once is by doing cardio….correctly. I see so many people at the gym leaning over the elliptical and stair master and depending so greatly on those arm rails of the treadmill. By using cardio machines hands free you can strengthen the entire body. Combining intense cardio and sun salutations (yoga) is an ideal way to give the muscles what they need.
As I mentioned above, contract contract contract, does not work. Think of your physical activities as output. Think of stretching and relaxing as input. If output far exceeds input you are depleted. You must put back into your body for optimum health and performance. By breathing deeply and stretching your muscles you can restore circulation by decreasing tension. Whatever your job requires of your body you must find a way to re balance. For example, if you are sitting at a desk all day, you should take a brisk walk everyday. Even a 15 minute walk followed by some stretching will keep the circulation flowing through your legs and your hips and lower back will be much happier. Another essential ingredient for those sitting at computers all day is to open the chest. The chest muscles shorten as you sit, hunched over your keyboard for extended periods of time. Roll up a blanket, lean back and lay down on the blanket so that it is in line with your spine. This will help the chest open and relax and will help with upper back and neck pain.
There are a few ways to clean your muscles. Heat, manipulation and movement.
By sitting in a hot tub, taking a hot bath, sitting in a sauna or having a cardio or intense yoga session you bring heat to the muscles. The heat dilates the vessels and allows the natural exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide to happen more easily. In addition to the dilation of vessels your body also eliminates toxins through your sweat.
When you get a massage the therapist is manipulating the tissues in an effort to break toxins off the muscles and increase the flow of oxygenated blood through all parts of the body. At the same time, he or she is pushing venous blood toward the heart in an effort to assist the detoxifying of the blood. When you feel a knot you are actually feeling areas of the muscle that have hardened and have a build up of toxins. Those hardened parts of the muscles have become ischemic. The massage breaks up the ischemia and allows fresh oxygenated blood to flow into the area.
Body movement works in the same way as massage but it is active. I always think of massage as passive relaxation and detox and exercise as active relaxation and detox. When you move your body you help the blood flow. Where the blood is flowing freely and easily the body has the most potential for health and optimum function.