Today, older adults are more active and expect more out of life. From traveling to hiking to biking, older adults are striving to live life to the fullest. Good health is essential to maintaining an active lifestyle, and your spine is vital to movement.
At Pain Management Specialists in Rockville and Frederick, Maryland, we want patients to know that there are steps you can take to keep your spine healthy as you age. While many people have some degenerative changes to their spine by age 40, there are things you can do to keep your spine strong and flexible, so you can continue living an active lifestyle as you age.
Here are some suggestions for keeping your spine and back in the best possible condition.
Your spine is supported by the extensor muscles in your lower back, which keep you upright, flexible, and strong. Making strength-training exercises a part of your lifestyle will help strengthen your spine and the muscles that support it.
Add strength-building exercises that focus on the abdominal core. Your core muscles, which are deep in your abdomen and pelvic area, form a girdle of support around your lower back. Pilates and yoga are just a few of the many forms of exercise that focus on core strength. Seek advice from a physical therapist who can demonstrate proper techniques for building strength with and without weights.
It's not easy to stay flexible as you get older, but it should be a goal to avoid or alleviate any physical problems with your spine. Yoga is known for stretching muscles and increasing and maintaining flexibility while also building strength.
However, even simple activities, such as walking, can help keep your spine flexible by gently moving your back muscles as you walk.
Maintaining a strong, erect posture is one of the most straightforward ways to support your spine and keep it strong and healthy as you age. Unfortunately, sedentary behavior can affect your spinal alignment.
When walking, aim to keep your back in a neutral position. When sitting, avoid slouching. If you’re sitting at your computer, sit with your back straight, your head up, your forearms parallel to the floor, and your feet flat on the floor.
Good posture can go a long way in helping you keep your back healthy.
An investment in high-quality shoes can pay off for many years. If you wear unsupportive or high-heeled shoes, your body can become unbalanced, and your spine can be forced to compensate.
Muscle aches and pains, hunched shoulders, and disc problems can all result. Consider orthotic shoes, which can be customized to your feet, or shoes with more arch support.
The structures in your spine that have been working hard all day can finally relax and rejuvenate while you're lying down, but only if you have a mattress that supports your spine. A good mattress provides pressure relief and keeps the spine in the proper position.
For good spine support, choose a mattress that’s medium-firm to firm. A soft or sagging mattress may not provide enough support for your spine. Consult with a mattress expert and try out different mattresses to find the one that provides the most support for your spine.
Carrying excess weight puts a significant strain on your spine and can cause added wear and tear on your spine. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for developing back pain and spinal problems. If you’re overweight, taking steps to slim down may help improve and protect your spine health.
Don’t wait until you have problems with your spine to start practicing healthy habits that support your spine. To learn more about what you can do to keep your spine healthy and strong, book an appointment online or over the phone with Pain Management Specialists today.