What is Spinal Hygiene?

Spinal hygiene, much like dental hygiene is preventative maintenance. It’s used to preserve the health of one’s spine. The goal is to maintain or increase the amount of movement and flexibility in the spine. This would be good for any number of different people. This could be the office worker who sits and looks straight forward for most of their day. What if you are someone coming off a motor vehicle accident who feels like they don’t move as well as they used to. You could be someone who’s interested in preventive care to maintain motion in your spine. Its also used to undo the effects of bad posture, or help treat neck or back pain.

Man With Back Pain who could use spinal hygiene stretches

Back pain can happen to anyone

How to perform the spinal hygiene exercises

The goal with spinal hygiene is to take each part of your spine into the three main motions of movement. They are forward and backward movement, side to side bending, and side to side rotation. One will end up going through six motions in general and spending around 10 seconds for each. You can start with any of the motions. Begin by stretching all the way to the end of the motion and holding that spot for 10 seconds. You then go into the opposite motion all the way to the end and then you hold there for 10 seconds. For example you start by bending all the way forward with your body. First in the low back, then the upper back, and finally ending in the neck. Once you get all the way to the end you hold that spot for 10 seconds. You then bend all the way back and repeat the hold.

Full Spine Forward Bend Spinal Hygiene Stretch

Making sure to bend at the neck, upper back, and lower back.

Full Spine Left Lateral Bend Spinal Hygiene Stretch

Getting a deep bend from side to side.

How often should I be moving?

In a perfect world one would try to perform the spinal hygiene exercises daily. You would aim for once every 30 minutes to one hour throughout the day. Starting the day with this stretch can help shake off morning stiffness. If you’re a night owl doing it right before bed can be a great stress reliever. The reality of one’s schedule may mean that every couple hours you go through the stretches instead. Or you only do it at the beginning and end of the day. The simple act of even doing it once daily can lead to positive effects over time. Our bodies love activity and motion and this is a great way to ensure you don’t neglect to take care of yourself.


Here is a brief video describing how to go through the spinal hygiene exercises. It shows how to preform the movements described in the article.

The main goal of spinal hygiene is to keep your body moving throughout the day. It can serve as a great reminder of how often you’re moving and in which directions you’re moving. A good example would be an office worker who is sitting all day looking forward at their screen. If the workstation isn’t ergonomically set up you could be sitting in a chair looking at a screen for up to 8 hours a day. This is a huge amount of time for the body to be still. When prolonged, this can cause tissue to become inflexible and stiffen up. Over time can translate to pain in the back or neck, or even other symptoms like headaches.

Full Spine Right Rotation Spinal Hygiene Stretch

Making sure to twist in the neck and back while looking as far back as is comfortable.

If you think spinal hygiene sounds right for you book an appointment at our office. We can work up and address your neck or back concerns if you are dealing with some kind of issue.

If you want more information on spinal hygiene check out this blog by wrote Doctor Tabor Smith. You can also listen to this podcast where he discusses it.

Happy man after doing spinal hygiene stretches

Feeling good after a minute of stretching.