How to Keep Your Spine Healthy As You Age
The human spine is by far the most vulnerable part of the human body. As we’ve evolved into upright, two-legged creatures, our spines, regrettably, have not followed suit. Because of this, the aging process has a tendency to wreak havoc on our spines, especially when it comes to physically active adults who exercise regularly and work jobs that involve manual labor. However, even the most at-risk adults have recourse to certain safety measures. Here are a few of the best ways to strengthen your spine and avoid spine surgery as you get older.
Having a bad back doesn’t mean you should shy away from exercise altogether. What it means is that you should know your body and pay attention when putting stress on it. If you find yourself straining to lift weights, using machines that emphasize upper body strength over core strength, or having issues after a jog, you should start to think about how you can exercise differently and at less risk to your health. Concentrate on lower impact exercises like quick jogs, strength training, and swimming to put the least amount of pressure on your back.
Get More Calcium
As your bones get older, they become more frail. That’s why it’s important to strengthen your bones as much as you can while they’re young, with the help of a high calcium diet. You might think that that requires drinking a lot of milk, but contrary to popular belief, there are many foods that are high in calcium that don’t include dairy. Most leafy greens like kale and broccoli are very high in calcium content, as are certain fish like salmon, alternative proteins like tofu, and a number of non-dairy milk alternatives like macadamia milk, almond milk, and coconut milk.
Know When to Rest
Sometimes, back strain can come creeping up on us when we least expect it. Paying attention to your body is one of the best ways to stop back trouble before it even starts. If you’re noticing a subtle pain or pinching, get it checked out right away. If you catch yourself sitting or standing in an awkward position that might be putting undue stress on your spine, remember to be more aware from day to day. In order to truly protect your back from injury, you have to be aware of the stress you’re putting on it each day.
Be Careful with Lifting
For many people, lifting isn’t a common enough part of life that it requires too much attention to detail. However, being taught the proper, ergonomic way to lift heavy objects can be the key to saving yourself a lot of pain and expensive surgeries down the line. When getting ready to lift a heavy object, even if it’s just a large grocery bag, squat down to the floor and pick the object up from the bottom, using your core muscles and the propelled movement from your legs as you rise to help shift the weight across your body and off of your back.
Practice Good Posture
Having great posture is the key to a healthy back. If you’re someone who’s aware of their body, you’ll know when you’re slacking off in regards to posture. Always be aware of slouching, leaning, and placing too much stress on your back in any position. You want your back to be flexible and supple as you age, not rigid and stuck in a dangerous pattern.
Pay Attention to Weight and Diet
What you eat also has a lot to do with back health. If you want to have good posture, general good health, and the strongest back possible, always pay attention to your weight and make sure you’re not putting stress on your back as a result of carrying more weight around the middle. If you’re eating enough fruits, vegetables, and proteins and paying attention to your body, you’ll know what’s best in terms of your weight.
Strengthen Your Core
Having strong core muscles will help you with so much in life–not just your back problems. If you know how to exercise and lift properly, you’ll already be aware of the power you hold in your core. Muscle building and stretch regimens like those practiced in yoga or Pilates are ideal for paying attention to core muscles while taking the strain off your back during exercise.