Healthy Habits for a Healthy Spine
Arthritis in the spine is not a condition that just shows up one day. It slowly develops over time. It is a serious concern for the elderly because the arthritic joints tend to be weaker than healthy ones and prone to injury. There are some healthy habits that we can take on early in life to help reduce the risk of spinal arthritis.
Having proper posture in the teen years and keeping proper posture into adulthood can help to keep the bones from remodeling incorrectly. Bones are living tissue and they respond to stress. Bad posture causes the back bones to grow misshaped. As just as a young tree can be straightened and made to grow into a proper straight adult tree, so can the vertebral column be corrected during the formative years.
Move During the Work Day.
Our bodies respond to movement. About every 45 minutes during the work day, get up and move around. Change postures, use the restroom, get a drink of water, do something that requires you to get out of your work chair.
Range of Motion.
Each day, apply light stretches and range of motion exercises. It’s important to take your joints through regular motion in order to keep your flexibility. Try doing “ABC’s” with the head, and snow angels on the floor. Try to motion each of the major joints.
Sit with Upright Posture.
Slouchy posture can incorrectly apply stresses to the pelvis and sacrum. This can lead to muscle imbalance and pain. Organize your work station so that you can keep upright posture.
Core Muscle Strengthening.
One major key to a healthy lower back is strong core muscles. The core muscles are those posture muscles located right next to the spine. The exercises which strengthen these include planks, leg lifts, yoga, and pilates. Try to incorporate these into your daily routine.
Strengthen the Spinal Extensors.
As we age, we lose some muscle tone. So it is even more important that we focus on keeping our muscle mass. The extensors of the spine must be exercised. Most gyms have trainers on hand who can help you with the proper exercises to keep them strong.
Either at a gym or at home, resistance training helps to build muscle mass, which helps to protect the joints from injury. Focus on all the major muscle groups, arms, back, legs, chest, abdomen. Dumbbells are cheap and easily available. A person can do great exercises even with simple dumbbells.
Eat a well balanced diet with plenty of protein, omega-3’s, calcium, and vitamin-D. Bones are living tissue and they need proper raw materials in order to keep up with the demands of an ever-changing body. Omega-3s are important for their role in inflammation reduction. Inflammation can promote the proliferation of certain stress hormones which can interfere with bone metabolism, making it weak. An excellent source of healthy calcium is yogurt. Eat yogurt every day. Most women need about 1200mg of calcium each day.
Regular Chiropractic Care.
It’s true. Seeing a chiropractor regularly for spinal check-ups has shown to reduce the risk of injury and reduces the arthritic changes. In addition to the spinal corrections received during your chiropractic appointment, your chiropractor can also talk with you about these other habits and help you stay on your path.
Featured image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stuart Miles