Two Habits for Orthopedic Health
Dr. Jeff Stickney, an orthopedic surgeon in Kirkland, is an expert in orthopedic health, modern pain management like the SwiftPath method, sports medicine, and more. Make an appointment with Dr. Stickney to learn how you can return to a pain-free lifestyle.
Prevention is key when it comes to joint pain, sports injuries, neck and back pain, and other complications to your orthopedic health. The best means of prevention is to consistently tend to your overall health, which is often easier said than done. However, maintaining a pain-free lifestyle may be as simple as adding these two healthy habits to your daily routine:
Getting quality sleep is arguably the most crucial aspect of any daily routine, and the most impactful to your orthopedic health. Not only is it the time when your body recovers from activity or injury during the prior days, but it can also determine how your body feels in the days to come. By developing an awareness of your sleeping habits and adapting them, you can prevent waking up with back or neck pain, and set your musculoskeletal system up for pain-free success.
Sleeping on your back is ideal for pain prevention because it avoids any unnatural extension of your spine, while aligning your body from head to toe. This distributes your weight more evenly than sleeping on your stomach, which can exacerbate lower back issues by placing most of your weight on your middle. Stomach sleepers also have a greater chance of a sore neck because your head is twisted to the side. If you can’t sleep unless you’re on your belly, try sleeping with no pillow or a flat one under your head, and another placed beneath your hips.
Side sleepers should aim to keep their neck and spine aligned as much as possible too, and the best way to do so may be by curling both legs toward your chest and placing a pillow between your knees. This arches your back and keeps your hips aligned to prevent any strain on your lower back.
Improving your flexibility and range of motion allows you to perform tasks without joint stress. Try these stretches in the morning to alleviate stiffness, or before you go to bed for a better night’s sleep. Make sure to stay within the limits of your flexibility, and perform static stretching only after a warm up or exercise to avoid injury and get the optimal benefit.
Perform a standing side bend with feet shoulder-width apart, lifting your arms above your head. Move your shoulders as close to your ears as possible and clasp your hands together, as if holding onto a rope from the ceiling. Stretch your spinal cord upward, then lean gently from one side to the other, while maintaining a forward gaze and making sure you don’t lean forward or back. Try holding the stretch on each side for 3-5 breaths to stretch both sides of your body, benefitting your obliques, shoulders, hips, and spine.
The forward fold involves the same stance followed by a bend at the waist, while keeping weight in your heels and allowing your neck and arms to dangle with gravity. This stretches the legs, hamstrings, and back. To target your lower back and hips, try a hip flexor stretch by lying on your back and bringing your knees to your chest. Gently pull the knee towards your shoulder while keeping your spine and the other leg flat on the floor, then repeat on the other side.
By adding regular stretching and quality sleep to your daily routine, along with proper nutrition and exercise, you can rest assured that you’re on the path toward overall orthopedic health, and living your life pain-free. Contact Dr. Stickney to learn more about stretches that are safe for you to perform.