Spine Health: The Pandemic Underscores Its Importance

by Steven R. Knauf, D.C.

With two-thirds of the workforce now working from home, there is growing concern to adopt new practices that promote self-care along with productivity. Many may be sitting in new positions — working on a laptop at the dining table, or participating in a video meeting on the sofa (or bed) — for prolonged periods of time, which, according to the National Spine Health Foundation, can put the spine health at new risk if proper posture, exercises and practices aren’t implemented. 

Guidelines people should follow to maintain spine health while adjusting to this “new normal” are, primarily: stand, stretch, practice self-care and seek help.

When working at a desk (or a makeshift desk), it’s important to take a break every hour and stand up to help maintain circulation and avoid stiff joints and muscles. If it’s not possible for someone to stand up every hour, it’s suggested that they stretch and move the neck and back muscles.

Additionally, people should seek to include movement into their daily routine, with moderate social distancing-approved activities, such as walks around the neighborhood or climbing stairs. There are plenty of free workouts currently available online, all tailored to different ages and abilities.

Practicing daily yoga is also recommended. In addition to its benefits for stress-relief and the spine, practicing yoga regularly can reduce the risk factors for heart disease as well as improve the health of someone’s heart.

In these unprecedented times, it’s important for people to discover simple forms of self-care — even five minutes away from the noise and daily obligations can be enough. According to the You-Time Report from Birchbox, 70 percent of the population does not include me-time in their regular routine.

Finally, anyone suffering from chronic back pain and stiffness from prolonged sitting may benefit from a visit to a Doctor of Chiropractic to discuss treatment options and receive a gentle spinal adjustment. The risk for lower back pain, a herniated disc, a slipped disc, sciatica or degenerative disc disease is increased with sitting for long periods. The spine is compressed 30 percent more while sitting than when standing, resulting in increased pressure on the spine. A chiropractor can relieve the pressure that occurs to the spine and joints, diverting pain patients out of the medical systems and emergency rooms, easing the pressure on those systems.

As an essential healthcare service, chiropractors have the enormous duty to steer patients who require chiropractic services away from overburdened hospitals and exhausted healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, where risk of exposure to the virus could be greater. New information surrounding the changing landscape of everyday routines has many feeling overwhelmed, and, now more than ever, people are being exposed to extraordinary external stresses — fear of losing their job, strained finances and fear for loved ones, to name just a few. In this environment, chiropractic care is an essential practice to naturally allow the body to recognize and respond to the stress experienced by millions of Americans.

For more information, visit www.thejoint.com. For more information about The Joint Chiropractic’s response to coronavirus, visit www.thejoint.com/coronavirus-response.

Steven R. Knauf, D.C., is director of chiropractic and compliance for The Joint Chiropractic, the nation’s largest provider of chiropractic care. Dr. Knauf began working at The Joint in 2011. In January 2017, he was promoted to his current position as director of chiropractic and compliance. In this role, he ensures compliance for the franchise network while growing the system through strong relationships with chiropractic schools, associations and boards. In August 2017, Dr. Knauf was appointed by the governor to serve on the Arizona Board of Chiropractic Examiners, a position he continues to hold.

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