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Lessons from Our Forefathers: Using ‘Common Sense’ for Spinal Care

By Sara Butler

Common Sense

On January 10, 1776, Thomas Paine published a pamphlet called “Common Sense.” It was meant to encourage the 13 colonies to reject the rule of Great Britain and create their own egalitarian government. In the spirit of that very straightforward and witty prose published 243 years ago, I won’t bore you with political talk -- we seem to get enough of that on a 24-hour news/entertainment cycle.

Instead, I’m going to reimagine what Thomas Paine would have told you about how to fight for the health of your spine. After all, they didn’t have chiropractic care around in colonial times, but if they had, this is probably how Thomas Paine would have encouraged you to deal with your back pain to keep you -- as they would have said 2 1/2 centuries ago -- from being “solemncholy.”

Of the Origin and Design of the Spine

In the first section of Common Sense, Paine described the distinction between government and society. He called the government a “necessary evil.” Do you know what else is a necessary evil? Good posture.

It doesn’t matter if you’re at work, relaxing at home, or writing up a document that helps to shape a new nation, you should always keep your posture in mind.

When you’re sitting, you should:

  • Make sure to have a chair with back support
  • Utilize a lumbar roll for extra support of the curve in your lower back
  • Keep your chair at a height that places your feet flat on the floor
  • Take frequent breaks at least once an hour to move and stretch

When standing, you should:

  • Stand in such a way that you can draw a straight line from your ear to your ankle
  • Get supportive shoes that help maintain good posture
  • Take breaks from standing if you must stand for long periods

Of Lifting and Hereditary Succession

Some people may be predisposed to genetics to experience low back pain, especially pain caused by degenerative disc disease. This condition is associated with the normal wear and tear of the spine. One way to help reduce your chances of developing it or delaying its onset is to make sure when you lift, you lift correctly.

To do this, you should:

  • Use the muscles in your hips and legs to lift, not your back
  • Get as close as you can to the object, bend at the knees and work to maintain the natural curve of your spine
  • Never twist or turn your torso while lifting something heavy, instead use your feet to pivot
  • Reduce the number of objects you carry in a day, if possible, both at home and at work
  • Ask for help when you need it or use a cart to move objects

Thoughts on the Present State of Physical Exercise

People in colonial times did a lot of boguing in the woods. Relax, boguing is simply a term they used to describe walking around and you should follow their lead. Regular exercise helps you to maintain a healthy weight, which is better for your back and strengthens the muscles that help to support your spine.

To improve your spinal health (and overall health, too!) you should:

  • Stretch each day to help maintain mobility
  • Perform some sort of moderate exercise, such as walking or swimming, at least 150 minutes per week
  • Perform exercises such as yoga or Pilates that help to strengthen the muscles in your core to better support your spine

If you’re not a fan of exercise, then look at the bright side -- exercise also helps reduce stress, which would have come in handy while getting ready to take on the redcoats.

Some Miscellaneous Reflections

A few other things you can do to help reduce back pain and care for your spine include:

  • Quitting smoking - Smoking increases your chances of back pain and can reduce the blood supply to the important structures in your spine
  • Moving, even if in pain - Colonial Americans probably thought you should rest your back when in pain, but that’s antiquated advice; since most back pain is due to mechanical issues, you’ll likely feel better if you gently stretch, move, and walk
  • Eating healthy - Your spine is like any other body part and needs proper hydration and nutrition to function at its very best
  • Getting regular sleep – You may not have to wake up to feed the cows as your colonial ancestors did, but ensure you’re getting enough sleep at night so that your spine can rejuvenate and relax

Aside from access to clean and safe drinking water, wearing clothing with zippers, and the help of a chiropractor, you actually have a lot in common with the first Americans because you’re always seeking to improve the quality of your life. Let the chiropractors at The Joint Chiropractic show you how to use common sense today to care for your spine and your overall health, too.

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