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How To Keep Your Spine Healthy As You Age

As we age, many functions of our body slow down. Spine, one of the vital organs of our body starts ageing at the young age of 30 which may extend to the age of 40-60 years. The vertebrae inside the body become less protective and become narrow with age. When the spinal cord loses its elasticity with time, people experience severe back pain which deteriorates their quality of life and prevents them from accomplishing simple day-to-day tasks [1] .

A study conducted by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says that the main cause of spinal pain is spine diseases that cause swelling, restlessness, reduced flexibility and reduced mobility of the spine. However, as we all know, it's never too late to start living healthy, here are 11 tips to keep the spine healthy with age.

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1. Stay active: Being active is very important for the health of the spine, bone, heart and all body parts. The more you stay active the more you can contribute to the health of your spine. Go to the gym, swim, walk, play with kids or do every little thing to keep yourself active and stay spinally fit for life [2] .

2. Stretch, stretch and stretch: Flexibility is important when it comes to promoting your spinal health. Stretching up every day make you flexible which in turn, helps to maintain the normal joint functions. It also relieves stiff muscle and improves the stability of your body [3] .

3. Maintain a good sleeping posture: After all the hard work of the day, our body needs to relax and rejuvenate for the next day. Mattress, pillow and comfortability of the bed play an important role as they allow the spine to rest properly in a comfortable way. Prefer sleeping positions sideways and not by the stomach to avoid pressure on the spine [4] .

4. Don't lift heavyweight: People should avoid lifting weights which are more than 25% of their body's weight as it may cause injury to the spine or cause a herniated disc. Also, if you are about to lift a heavy object, bend down from the legs not from the waist and lift the weight slowly. Never lift it in a jerk as it may result in many spinal problems [5] .

5. Exercise every day: Lower back and abdominal muscles need to be strong as it supports our spine and help us to stand and lift objects. Perform exercise daily like bridge exercise and pelvic tilts to build up stronger muscles which will support you till the old age [6] .

6. Wear proper shoes: Though shoes seem to be of less importance in maintaining the health of the spine, it is highly useful in supporting the lower back and aligning the spine and the body by providing a good support base. Avoid wearing tight or overly loose shoes and wear those that fit perfectly from the back of the heels [7] .

7. Be careful while using mobile: Using mobile in wrong positions is an unhealthy habit that is affecting the spine of a large number of people nowadays. Many people use their mobile continuously remaining at certain positions which result in severe spinal pain. Keep your phone at eye or chest level to avoid excess bending and always sit up straight and use mobile [8] .

8. Take a break: Working continuously in the same position is tiring as well as harmful to our spinal cord. Change positions frequently in a workplace, adjust the office chair as per your comfort and don't slouch forward towards the screen and work. Also, don't forget to walk around every 20-30 minutes [9] .

9. Get a regular checkup: Regular consultation with your chiropractor is a must as it may help you to understand the best sleeping positions and other adjustments to keep your spine strong and healthy. They also help in understanding the warning signs with proper medications [10] .

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10. Eat a balanced diet: Include fish, dairy products, avocado and plant-based proteins in your diet to keep your spine healthy and strong for a longer period. If you are obese, try to reduce your body fat as too much weight may pressurize your spine and cause pain [11] .

11. Quit bad habits: To maintain a healthy spine, avoid all the bad habits like smoking, drinking alcohol and substance abuse. They make the immune system weaker which may cause weaker bones and spinal cord. Also, it leads to the development of several degenerative spinal disc diseases and early spinal arthritis [12] .

View Article References
  1. [1] Okazaki, T., Kanchiku, T., Nishida, N., Ichihara, K., Sakuramoto, I., Ohgi, J., … Taguchi, T. (2018). Age-related changes of the spinal cord: A biomechanical study. Experimental and therapeutic medicine, 15(3), 2824–2829. doi:10.3892/etm.2018.5796
  2. [2] Kehn, M., & Kroll, T. (2009). Staying physically active after spinal cord injury: a qualitative exploration of barriers and facilitators to exercise participation. BMC public health, 9, 168. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-168
  3. [3] Apostolopoulos, N., Metsios, G. S., Flouris, A. D., Koutedakis, Y., & Wyon, M. A. (2015). The relevance of stretch intensity and position-a systematic review. Frontiers in psychology, 6, 1128. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01128
  4. [4] Cary, D., Briffa, K., & McKenna, L. (2019). Identifying relationships between sleep posture and non-specific spinal symptoms in adults: A scoping review. BMJ open, 9(6), e027633. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2018-027633
  5. [5] Bourne, N. D., & Reilly, T. (1991). Effect of a weightlifting belt on spinal shrinkage. British journal of sports medicine, 25(4), 209-212.
  6. [6] Crane, D. A., Hoffman, J. M., & Reyes, M. R. (2017). Benefits of an exercise wellness program after spinal cord injury. The journal of spinal cord medicine, 40(2), 154–158. doi:10.1179/2045772315Y.0000000038
  7. [7] Park, K., Kim, Y., Chung, Y., & Hwang, S. (2016). Effects of the height of shoe heels on muscle activation of cervical and lumbar spine in healthy women. Journal of physical therapy science, 28(3), 956–959. doi:10.1589/jpts.28.956
  8. [8] Al-Hadidi, F., Bsisu, I., AlRyalat, S. A., Al-Zu'bi, B., Bsisu, R., Hamdan, M., … Samarah, O. (2019). Association between mobile phone use and neck pain in university students: A cross-sectional study using numeric rating scale for evaluation of neck pain. PloS one, 14(5), e0217231. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0217231
  9. [9] Heneghan, N. R., Baker, G., Thomas, K., Falla, D., & Rushton, A. (2018). What is the effect of prolonged sitting and physical activity on thoracic spine mobility? An observational study of young adults in a UK university setting. BMJ open, 8(5), e019371. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2017-019371
  10. [10] Goncalves, G., Le Scanff, C., & Leboeuf-Yde, C. (2017). Primary prevention in chiropractic practice: a systematic review. Chiropractic & manual therapies, 25, 9. doi:10.1186/s12998-017-0140-4
  11. [11] Khalil, R. E., Gorgey, A. S., Janisko, M., Dolbow, D. R., Moore, J. R., & Gater, D. R. (2013). The role of nutrition in health status after spinal cord injury. Aging and disease, 4(1), 14–22.
  12. [12] Berman, D., Oren, J. H., Bendo, J., & Spivak, J. (2017). The Effect of Smoking on Spinal Fusion. International journal of spine surgery, 11, 29. doi:10.14444/4029

Read more about: spinal cord age
Story first published: Tuesday, October 15, 2019, 17:00 [IST]
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