How to Keep Your Back Strong and Healthy As You Age
With the right lifestyle approach, aging doesn’t necessarily mean a painful back or living with stiffness and discomfort. To combat the aging effects on your back, healthy habits and choices can help you age better and with less pain.
For some, getting up from a chair can cause a moment of pain or discomfort, especially if you are well into your 40s or 50s. Your skeletal muscles and tendons attached to them support some crucial muscle areas in your body and these weaken over time due to many factors. The back and abdominal muscles are an important part of the spine that maintain proper posture, walking, and bending, and if we have not taken the best care of these muscles, they will begin to ache.
Strength training and stretching are a crucial component to maintaining a healthy, strong back. Strength training builds muscle and increases bone density, which lowers the risk of injuries due to weak bones, falls, and chronic disease. Stretching and yoga benefit a healthy back by improving flexibility and balance. They also strengthen muscles in the abdomen and back through different poses. In addition, swimming is another great exercise to strengthen back muscles because it offers buoyancy to lessen stress on joints and is gentle on your back.
Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Not only can a sedentary lifestyle be harmful to your back health, but pro-inflammatory foods are a culprit as well. Processed food and junk food contain trans fats, sugars, and white flour, all of which can cause back pain or exacerbate existing back issues. As Chirp points out, anti-inflammatory foods can counteract such inflammation and pain. Inflammation is an underlying cause for many of the diseases and pains that plague people of all ages.
Foods that contain antioxidants can reduce inflammation. This anti-inflammatory effect occurs when antioxidants neutralize free radicals within the body thereby boosting the immune system. Incorporating foods rich in antioxidants such as tuna, salmon, carrots, blueberries, apples, broccoli, olive oil, lentils, and sweet potatoes can prevent or slow down damage to the cells as a result of inflammatory foods. When you begin replacing inflammatory foods with those rich in antioxidants, you will begin to feel healthier, and your back will thank you.
Sitting and standing smart is another way towards a healthy back as you age. Sitting at a desk all day hunched over, neck bent awkwardly staring at a computer can bring on back pain and stiffness by the end of the day. You can work smart by making sure your desk and workspace are set up properly for your height and needs.VeryWell Health recommends choosing a few desk exercises that focus on posture to help avoid slumping. Choose a chair with good lumbar support and that allows your feet to rest comfortably on the floor. Make sure you are taking breaks throughout the day to move, walk, and stretch adequately to keep you limber and comfortable.
Aging does not have to be a painful process. A few simple lifestyle changes will keep your back healthy and strong. Get up, get outside, and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine as much as possible.
Trying to get more active? Check out these fun ways to start!