Tips for healthy spinal discs. It’s safe to say that most of us know someone who has suffered from a ‘Slipped Disk’ and has seen how much they suffered along the way. Well, unfortunately, because of our modern sedentary lifestyles, these problems are on the rise.
Because a healthy spine absolutely depends on having healthy discs, let’s look a little more closely at how we can make ours last the distance.
Your soft, squishy discs between your back-bones or vertebrae allow for both movements and for standing tall. They also absorb the stress and shock the body incurs during movement, preventing the vertebrae from grinding against one another. They are delicate yet do a hugely important job.
Your Discs are your SHOCK ABSORBERS!
Called your ‘Intervertebral Discs’ because they are found between each vertebra, these cushions have properties that mean they must have the correct alignment and movement if they are to function correctly without breaking down. Most of us nowadays are sitting too much of the time, with little movement and worsening posture (alignment), which means more stiffening and poor function and ultimately degeneration.
Just how important is it that we look after our discs? Well, did you realize that if you can keep them in good shape, you will actually age more slowly? It’s true, there is a direct correlation between the quality of your discs and the rate at which you will stiffen and age. If you look after your discs, life will be far more comfortable in the future, and because you rely on your spine for pretty much everything, if you can keep your discs healthy, then your future life will simply be better and you’ll be able to do all the things you’ve been planning for.
So, let’s see if we can pass on some simple and highly effective strategies to help your discs last as long as you do.
Understanding Your Discs
Before we can understand how to really look after our discs we must understand their make-up and how ‘they work’.
Each disc is made up of two parts: the Annulus Fibrosis, a sturdy, tire-like structure that encases the Nucleus Pulposus, the gel-like center of the disc that enhances the spine’s rotational stability and helps to resist compressive stress.
The Annulus is a layered structure consisting of water and sturdy elastic collagen fibers. The fibers are oriented at different angles horizontally similar to the construction of a radial tire, designed for strength in all directions of movement.
The center portion of each disc, the Nucleus Pulposus, is filled with a gel-like elastic substance and is made of similar tissue but with much higher water content. Together with the Annulus Fibrosis, the Nucleus Pulposus transmits stress and weight from vertebra to vertebra.
At the top and bottom of each vertebral body is an ‘Endplate’ which connects the vertebrae to the discs, effectively holding them in place.
IMPORTANT FACT – The Intervertebral Discs are the largest structures in the body without a vascular supply. This means that the vital blood, nutrition and oxygen supply to the disc comes only by the pumping action of movement and through osmosis.
“DON’T DAMAGE YOUR DISCS – THEY WILL ONLY LAST YOU A LIFETIME IF YOU LOOK AFTER THEM” – Dr Tim
People generally don’t know how to look after their spine and the result of this is plain to see. Rather than suffering for years, it really is much easier just to look after your discs and save yourself one whole heap of trouble!
My strong advice – Keep your discs in good shape with these 4 easy tips:
1. Look after your posture for healthy spinal discs.
Remember your posture is your alignment. There is only one efficient, balanced shape for your spine and anything that shifts your weight so that it is sitting unevenly on your discs will cause increased wear and tear.
2. Make sure each joint maintains its full and normal range of motion by stretching and receiving periodic chiropractic adjustments.
Life is a stiffening experience and as we age we tend to lose our youthful range of motion. As we stiffen we age faster, and as we age faster we stiffen; it’s a vicious circle. But, imagine if you can move freely, and painlessly, totally unencumbered, well into your later years. That should be your goal with your spinal maintenance.
3. Stay hydrated and maintain a healthy natural diet for healthy spinal discs.
Nutrients suspended in fluid (made from water) surround your spine and help maintain proper disc height. Without proper motion, the disc material does not get oxygen, glucose (healthy sugar), and other required nutrients.
When we suspect disc problems, MRI images of the spine reveal that the affected discs are turning black as they desiccate, or dry out, due to poor movement and consequently a reduced blood supply.
4. If you sit all day (computers, traveling, etc) try this simple action.
Roll your pelvis forward and back, side to side, and in a circular motion, to increase the pumping action in your lower discs. This brings nutrition in and expels the waste products. In the evening, sit on an exercise ball and get some movement into your spine.
Why is Chiropractic Important?
As a chiropractor in Singapore, I constantly talk about these vitally important structures, and indeed our main focus with our adjustments is to improve alignment and motion, and to maintain the function, and therefore health, of the spinal discs.
Did you realize that a vital role of your discs is to keep your back-bones apart and clear of your nerves? Ask anyone with nerve pain how important this is! As chiropractic focuses on keeping the nerves clear of interference, we understand fully the need to help the spinal discs maintain their height.
Motion is Life
Remember that lack of proper nutrient flow is the beginning of spinal decay itself. If it is allowed to continue, the decay manifests as arthritis, osteoporosis, nerve and tissue damage, and without correction worse must surely follow as the body systems themselves become increasingly stressed.