Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: April 17, 2017
As we get older, we begin to fight an unseen and uphill battle against our back. Over the years, our discs slowly wear down and our spinal canal can begin to narrow, and symptoms of these conditions are often expressed in our golden years. So what can you do to ensure your spine stays spry after the age of 60? We’re glad you asked.
Regular exercise is by far the best thing you can do for your spine. Exercise has numerous benefits for your back and your whole body in general. Aside from helping you maintain a healthy body weight, exercise helps to pump oxygenated blood to critical structures, strengthen muscles that support your spine and stave off painful conditions like spinal stenosis or disc degeneration. If you want to do right by your spine as you get older, find time to get 45-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise three to five times a week.
We alluded to this in the above point, but we tend to get a little less active as we get older. If our activity levels decrease but our caloric intake remains the same, you’ll inevitably put on weight. Excess weight can expedite the disc degeneration process or contribute to the narrowing of your spinal canal. Maintaining a healthy weight will help your spine remain healthy well into your 60s and 70s.
Give Up Smoking
It’s never too late to give up bad habits. Smoking damages healthy blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood to spinal structures, and if these areas can’t easily get healthy blood, problems can set in. Even if you can’t give up the habit completely, try to reduce your cigarette intake, because even small progress can help your spine stay healthy.
If you’re nearing retirement or already there, you’ll want to find some activities to keep yourself busy. While fishing or napping can be relaxing hobbies, they aren’t going to do much to help keep your spine healthy. Try to mix in some active habits like cycling, swimming, yoga, tai chi or hiking. These activities will help strengthen your spine, and it won’t feel like a workout. That’s a win-win!
You can reward yourself with an ice cream or candy bar here and there, but you’ll still want to make good food choices as you age. Aside from helping to keep the weight off, healthy dietary choices can prevent the onset of inflammation in the spine. Inflammation can compress spinal structures and lead to localized pain. Treat yourself now and then, but make an effort to get a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins each day.
For more information on how to care for your spine as you get older, contact Dr. Sinicropi today!