When you were in your teens and 20s, you may not have given much thought to back pain prevention. After all, this is a stage of life when there’s a natural tendency to think you’re pretty much invincible. By the time you get into your 30s and 40s, things that affect your spine begin to change, which means a greater risk of experiencing back pain. The good news is there are ways you can reduce your risk of developing back pain that seriously sidelines you as you get older.
Regular exercise increases circulation and helps the spine get a steady flow of healthy nutrients. It also keeps the spine-supporting muscle groups strong, which reduces the risk of back pain caused by strains, sprains, pulls, and tears. Aim for about 30 minutes of moderately intense forms of exercise 4–5 times per week. What’s also good about exercise is that it can be adapted to fit your preferences and abilities as you get older. Spine-friendly options include:
• Low- to moderate-intensity aerobics
• Traditional cycling or stationary bike use
• Swimming and other water-based forms of exercise
• Strength training routines
The rate at which your body burns calories (metabolism) tends to slow down when you get into your 30s and 40s. What this does is increase your odds of packing on extra pounds, which isn’t a good thing for your spine and the parts that support it. Sugary snacks and fatty foods also increase inflammation—another bad thing for your spine and the nerves around it. Occasional treats are fine, but also balance out your diet with green leafy veggies, lean proteins, and other nutrient-rich foods.
Years of poor posture often start to catch up with people by the time they get into their 30s and 40s. Things like hunching and craning your neck when using various tech devices can contribute to small yet impactful damage to your spine’s bones, joints, soft tissues, and nerves. These “microtraumas” also have the potential to accelerate the wear and tear that affects spinal structures over time. Avoid overstressing your spine by adopting good posture habits that include:
• Keeping your head directly above your shoulders
• Sitting up straight and positioning your laptop or monitor directly in front of you at work
• Not hunching or slouching when sitting or standing
• Sleeping in a position that keeps your back, neck, and head aligned
If you do experience back pain in your 30s and 40s or at any other point in your life, don’t ignore it. You’ll be less likely to have serious spine-related problems if you’re proactive about the smaller things. As a general rule, any type of back pain that’s getting worse or not going away should be reason enough to see a doctor or a Santa Monica spine surgeon.
Nicotine and other ingredients in tobacco products make blood vessels smaller, which makes it difficult for beneficial nutrients to get to the spine. A lack of sufficient nutrients also makes spinal bones and joints more susceptible to fractures. If you haven’t done so already, do your spine a favor and kick the smoking habit.
No matter what your age, back pain and injuries can be treated in a variety of ways. At The Spine Institute, we specialize in minimally invasive fusion and non-fusion procedures, such as artificial disc replacement and spinal fusion alternatives. Santa Monicapatients can rely on our team of spine health experts to determine the best way to prevent back pain and treat spine injuries related to everyday life. Call one of our friendly staff members today at 310-828-7757.