How to Keep Your Spine Healthy as You Age

The spine is one of the most integral structures within our body. Not only is it responsible for giving our back strength, flexibility and movement, but it also houses the spinal cord – the information superhighway that sends messages from the brain to the rest of the body and plays a key role in our central nervous system. Issues that affect the spine can have an impact anywhere in the body. This means that spine health should be a top priority for everyone at all stages of their life.



As we get older, it’s not unusual to start experiencing health problems. What you may not realize is that many of these issues could be a direct result of problems with your spine. You may start to find everyday movements you previously took for granted, like picking up objects or going up and down the stairs, much more difficult than before. You could be experiencing back, neck or joint pain. You could even be struggling with insomnia, indigestion or another condition that is affecting your quality of life.



It is in everyone’s best interests to take care of their spine as they age, but especially people who have very physical jobs or enjoy recreational sports. Like any other part of the body, the spine is placed under daily stresses through the movements and activities we perform. Wear and tear are normal, but often accelerated in people who play sport, do physical labor, or have underlying health issues such as osteoporosis. Poor posture can also accelerate the rate of degeneration in the spine. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to keep your spine healthy as you get older.



Here are our top tips for keeping your spine strong and healthy as you age.



Be careful lifting



Lots of injuries occur when lifting, especially if you don’t use the correct technique. Experts recommend that you don’t lift more than 25% of your body weight alone, and that you use the correct bending, twisting and lifting techniques to do so. Your physical therapist will be able to advise you what these are.



Practice proper posture



Poor posture is a key contributor to spinal problems, particularly when it is a result of being hunched at a desk for hours on end. Practice proper posture whenever possible. You should also make adjustments to your desk setup to make sure it’s not putting any pressure on your spine. Your feet should be flat on the floor, legs bent 90 degrees at the knees, elbows resting on the desk and your eyes in the middle of your screen. If you aren’t sure about your posture or your workstation setup, look online for guidance or speak to a professional.



Stay active



Maintaining an active lifestyle can help to reduce your risk of developing lower back pain, keep you flexible and maintain your weight. Experts recommend that everyone combines aerobic activity with core strengthening exercises and stretching to maximize their flexibility, promote good joint function and range of motion and burn calories.



Maintain a healthy weight



More than half of the U.S. adult population are overweight, but carrying excess pounds is bad news for your health. Not only is obesity linked to a range of serious health problems, but it also places excessive strain on your body, including your joints and spine. Try and maintain a healthy weight to keep your spine in tip top condition.



Drink plenty of water



Intervertebral discs are an integral structure within the spine. These spongy discs are found between each vertebra and are responsible for providing impact protection, as well as facilitating twisting, bending and flexing of the spine. As we age, these discs can become dehydrated, and this puts them at risk of cracking or herniating. Drinking enough water will stop spinal discs from shrinking due to dehydration and will help keep your spine healthy and functioning perfectly.




For more advice on how to keep your spine healthy as you age, get in touch with our expert team at USA Sports Medicine. Call us at any of our five California locations: Sherman Oaks (818) 862-4500, Arcadia (626) 445-2536, Woodland Hills (818) 538-4580, West Hills (818) 853-0127, or Burbank (818) 841-4100.

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