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7 Habits That Support Optimal Spine and Back Health as You Age

7 Habits That Support Optimal Spine and Back Health as You Age

Aches, pains, and joint stiffness are common as you get older, and after age 40, most people have some degree of age-related spine changes. While some change is to be expected, there are things you can do to keep your spine healthy and strong as you age.

At The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas, board-certified orthopedic surgeon Thomas Jones II, MD, specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery. By the time most patients reach our clinic, they’ve struggled with neck or back pain from conditions like herniated discs and degenerative disc disease for some time without adequate relief.

Surgery is reserved for severe cases and in situations where nonsurgical approaches have failed to provide relief. If you’re struggling with neck or back pain, Dr. Jones can recommend the most appropriate treatment option to get you on the path to less pain.

Of course, preventing spine issues before they start is ideal. While some spine conditions are unavoidable, there are certain lifestyle habits you can adopt to cut your risk of spine problems and keep your spine as healthy as possible.

1. Regular exercise

One of the pillars of spinal health is regular exercise. Engaging in activities that strengthen your core muscles, which support your spine, can make a major difference. 

Low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, or yoga improve flexibility and strength without putting too much strain on your back. Strengthening your abdominal and back muscles helps maintain proper posture and spine alignment.

Don't underestimate the power of stretching. Daily stretching can improve flexibility, reduce stiffness, and lower your risk of back pain. Gentle stretching exercises, especially in the morning, can prepare your back for the day ahead.

2. Maintaining a healthy weight

Excess weight, particularly around your abdomen, increases the strain on your back muscles and spine. By maintaining a healthy weight, you can reduce this strain and prevent back pain. 

Incorporate foods rich in calcium and vitamin D into your diet to support bone health. Leafy greens, dairy products, and fortified foods are excellent choices. Also, stay hydrated, as dehydration can contribute to disc degeneration in the spine.

3. Proper posture

Good posture isn't just about looking confident. It's essential for keeping your spine in alignment and reducing strain on your back muscles and ligaments. When standing, keep your shoulders back, abdomen in, and feet shoulder-width apart. 

When sitting, especially for long periods, use a chair with good back support and keep your feet flat on the floor. Ensure that you have an ergonomic workspace. The top of your monitor should be at eye level, and your keyboard should allow your arms to rest comfortably.

4. Smart lifting techniques

Improper lifting can cause back injuries. Always lift with your knees, keeping the object close to your body, and avoid twisting your torso while lifting. If an object is too heavy, ask for help.

5. Regular health checks

Regular check-ups with your health care provider can help identify and address any potential back issues early. Discuss any back pain or concerns with your doctor, even if they seem minor.

Consider regular visits to a chiropractor or physical therapist. These professionals can provide personalized advice and treatments to maintain spine health and address any issues before they become severe.

6. Quitting smoking

Smoking has been linked to back pain and poor spinal health. It can reduce blood flow to the spine, leading to disc degeneration and slower healing. Quitting smoking is a wise step toward better spine health.

7. Minding your sleep posture

Your sleeping posture affects your back health. The best position for spinal health is lying on your back or side. Placing a pillow under your knees provides added support if you prefer sleeping on your back. For side sleepers, a pillow between your knees can help maintain spinal alignment.

Taking care of your spine and back health as you age is essential for maintaining mobility, independence, and quality of life. In addition to the habits shared here, our team can offer more personalized recommendations following a thorough consultation. 

Contact our office to request an appointment at The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas today. We’re located in Pearland and Lake Jackson, Texas.

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