How to look after your spine

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Woman on high lunge yoga pose in class

If your spine’s not healthy, then all the hard work that you’re doing to develop your muscles could be wasted!

So it’s important to consider how your lifestyle is impacting your spine…

Due to the fact that many of us spend a lot of time sitting hunched over a desk, we are putting a lot of pressure on the front part of our intervertebral discs. These discs could be described as the “shock absorbers” between the bones of the spine…

In other words, if you don’t balance out the muscles at the front and the back of the body equally, you can end up doing yourself a mischief! That’s why (in my biased opinion!) Yoga is so great…

If you tend to over-round your back and neck (looking down at your phone for a large portion of your day, for example), you can end up with a prolapsed (or “slipped”) disc in the spine. This is because the intervertebral disc is squished at the front of the spine by the continuous pressure of the vertebrae pressing down at the anterior section, which can cause it to bulge out at the back…

No matter what your passion (Boot Camp, Football, Rugby, or Ballet!), keeping your spine healthy is always going to be important. Since Yoga places a huge emphasis on keeping the spine strong and mobile, then you start to see why so many top-level athletes and sportspeople use this practice as a compliment to their training…

One of the most important sequences in Yoga is the Sun Salutation – a series where you essentially flex and extend the spine by doing forward folds and backbends. This works the muscles in the front and the back of the body equally – which, in turn, makes sure that we balance out the pressure on the front and the back of the intervertebral discs.

This means you’ll end up with better posture (if you’re doing it right!), and that your spine will be better able to deal with whatever gets thrown at it…

Of course, the spine is also the home of the spinal cord, which transfers all the messages from the brain throughout the body – so a healthy spine is also key to stopping you getting things like trapped nerves, which can be debilitating…

So – if you’re the type of person who always focuses on just doing those ab exercises for the washboard stomach, you must make sure to do some lower back strengthening too! Ladies (and gents, I suppose!) – if you’re on the “booty boost” vibe, don’t neglect those lower back stretches too!

Remember that too much of anything is not good for you…It’s all about balance – but then, as a Yoga teacher, I WOULD say that…

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