Turning Back The Hands of Father “Spine”

How You Can Help Your Spine Age Gracefully – 5 Practical Tips

The overall population of the United States is getting older. Sixty years ago, approximately 17 million Americans were aged 65 or older. Today, those numbers have skyrocketed to over 55 million. The number of older people in the United States is predicted to continue to increase. 

Like the rest of the human body, spine health declines over time, too. Age-related conditions like degenerative disc disease, spinal osteoarthritis, kyphosis, and others most frequently impact people over 65. But there are plenty of things people of any age can do to increase their protective spine odds. 

Lift Lightly â€“ Avoid lifting heavy objects whenever possible, and always use correct bending, twisting, and lifting techniques.

Lifting anything is a strenuous activity for your spine. Cumbersome objects should never be lifted alone – ask for help. Get as close to the load as possible before picking it up, and always lift with your legs. If you need to lift something and put it somewhere else – twist and pivot using your feet, NOT your back. 

Nosh Nutritiously – Eat a balanced diet that includes anti-inflammatory foods and vitamin D to keep the spine’s vertebral bones healthy and strong.

The health and well-being of every structure in our bodies – including the spine – is mainly based on our vitamin and mineral composition. Your best bet for your spine is to get your vitamin and mineral needs from healthy food sources. Animal organs (rich in bone-building Vitamins A, B12, and K), leafy greens, orange fruits and veggies (which have loads of Vitamin A to help repair damaged tissue), and dairy products (for the bone-strengthening calcium) are all solid areas of nutritional focus for someone who wants to eat for the long-term health of their spine.

Exercise Efficiently â€“ Strengthen core muscles via targeted exercises, including aerobics, flexion (bending forward), and extension (bending backward) stretches.

When you commit to incorporating abdominal exercises into an exercise routine each week, you will likely feel less back pain as your abs get more toned. Planks and certain types of abdominal crunches are exercises you can do daily to tighten the muscles that protect the spine from injury and pain. As with all exercise recommendations, always clear them with your regular healthcare provider first. Once you have that green light, stay consistent with the exercise activities. You may not realize the benefits overnight, but they will likely manifest over time – resulting in a stronger spine with far fewer bouts of back pain to battle.

Stop Smoking –If you smoke, get help to quit if needed. The chemicals in cigarettes and even vaping devices harm spine function and health.

You may have heard it said that the lung tissue of smokers can begin to regenerate and repair itself almost immediately when a person chooses to quit smoking. The same can be valid for the spine. When the onslaught of toxic chemicals on the body is ceased, the spinal discs can begin to restore and regenerate. But giving them the best fighting chance is essential, by quitting for good.

If you’re a current smoker – stop, period. Talk to your doctor about what you can do for smoking cessation success. There are so many products and programs on the market today that can help. Your spine and your health deserve the effort.

Sit Sparingly – If you’re seated for most of the day, whether for work, school, or leisure, make needed adjustments to your chair and computer screen, ensuring you have proper spinal alignment and adequate neck and spinal support.

Whether binge-watching shows on a TV streaming service from our couch or bed or being constantly glued to scrolling on our smartphones, Americans sit more today than ever before. A sedentary lifestyle leads to significant back pain because the spine becomes continually compressed when we are constantly in a seated position. Compression of the spine’s vertebrae and discs robs them of receiving adequate blood flow and oxygenation to work well.

Though none of us can outrun Father Time, we can aim to age more gracefully when it comes to our spine health. It’s never too late to start or to start again. The approach to better spine (and overall) health may not always be easy, but it really is simple. So here’s to us holding off on purchasing that rocking chair. We still have plenty of healthy years to live life to its fullest!


https://ors.od.nih.gov/sr/dohs/HealthAndWellness/Ergonomics/Pages/spine.aspx https://infospine.net/2023/01/a-holiday-focus-on-nutrition-with-your-spine-in-mind/

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Neel Anand MD