5 Tips for Protecting Your Spine as You Age

You may not often give your spine a lot of thought until it causes you pain and dysfunction. As you age, your spine is vulnerable to aches and pains due to years of poor posture, repetitive movement, and osteoarthritis.

Your spine isn’t destined to degrade as you age, however. Here are some ways you can protect it as you age.

Move more

Exercise is critical to good spine health. Follow the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advice to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, five days a week. But don’t stop there. Lift weights to keep your bones, including your vertebrae, strong and do core exercises that work not only your abdominals, but that also strengthen the muscles of the back including the erector spinae.

Maintain a healthy weight

You don’t have to aspire to be supermodel skinny, but talk to your doctor about what weight is healthy for you and seek to maintain it. Carrying excess weight heaps extra pressure on your joints, including your spine. If you carry a lot of that weight in your belly, it also throws off your balance and makes your spine work extra hard to hold you upright.

Physical activity, portion-controlled meals, and healthy foods — such as vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and unsaturated fats — support weight loss and maintenance.

Ditch the cigarettes

Smoking is often maligned for its effects on your heart and lungs, but tobacco use also has a serious impact on your bones. It can accelerate osteoporosis and lead to the development of degenerative disc disease.  If you smoke, you’re more likely to develop early spinal arthritis and lose mobility.

Posture perfect

Years of postural laziness can lead to back pain later in life. Keep your spine healthy by working on your posture now whether you’re sitting in the office, standing at a retail job, driving your kids to school, or watching television on the couch.

Always sit upright and keep your shoulders pulled down and back, naturally. If you have a desk job, ensure your monitor is at eye level and avoid holding your phone between your ear and shoulder. Make sure your feet can comfortably reach the ground, and support your lower back with a cushion or pillow.

When you stand, avoid slouching to one side. Balance your shoulders over your hips and your hips over your heels.

Sleep tight

Sleep is a time for healing and restoration. Your spine benefits from a bed that offers support as your spine rests. Choose a mattress that provides support and replace it every 7-10 years.

The firmness and shape of your mattress are largely up to your personal preference, but do make sure it’s thick enough to offer you support in your preferred sleep position.

Another way to protect your spine is to visit Dr. Lund for regular chiropractic adjustments. He can help keep your joints, muscles, and nerves in alignment so your spine can serve you well as you age. Chiropractic care isn’t just for those times you have an injury or pain; it helps to prevent imbalances that can lead to pain and dysfunction as you age.

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