The bones and discs of the backbone are susceptible to gradual wear and tear that may contribute to spine-related aches and pains. Aging also causes vertebrae to wear away and shrink and spaces around the spinal canal to progressively narrow (spinal stenosis), sometimes to the point where nerves are irritated. Add age-related conditions like osteoporosis and degenerative disc disease into the mix and it’s easy to see why maintaining a healthy spine past age 60 should be a top priority. Beverly Hills spine surgeons offer some tips to help you achieve this goal.
The muscles around the spine can provide much-needed support as bones, joints, and discs become less stable with age. Regular exercise, especially activities focused on the core (everything except your arms and legs), can increase flexibility and the circulation of nutrients to the spine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommends healthy adults get about 2 hours of exercise per week. Older adults may especially benefit from:
- Water-based exercises
- The gentle, controlled movements of yoga and Pilates
- Low-impact aerobic activities like walking
Watch Your Weight
Age-related changes in how the body processes food can lead to weight gain if you’re not careful about what you eat. Excess weight can make it difficult to find the motivation to stay active, and it can also place added pressure on your spine and aggravate existing conditions.
If you haven’t done so already, give up smoking if you want to keep your spine healthy as you age. Several studies suggest chemicals in cigarettes, especially nicotine, may damage blood vessels in and near the spine and prevent soft tissues from sufficiently healing.
Adopt Active Hobbies
There’s nothing wrong with exploring the wonderful world of scrapbooking or learning how to craft pottery. However, such hobbies won’t do much to keep your spine healthy. Mix up your regular routine to include participation-based activities like walking around the mall, going for occasional bike rides, or joining an age-appropriate dance or exercise class.
Follow a Nutritious Diet
Making smart diet choices can do more than just keep your weight in check. Foods such as green, leafy veggies, blueberries, almonds, and fatty fish like sardines and mackerel naturally reduce inflammation. Older adults can also benefit from a diet that includes:
- Bone-strengthening minerals like calcium and phosphorus
- Lean proteins that help build muscle mass
- Low-fat dairy products to get the beneficial vitamins older adults need in larger amounts (particularly vitamins D and E and the various types of B vitamins)
Pay Attention to Your Posture
You’re never too old to correct poor posture habits. Any movements or positions that don’t retain the spine’s natural alignment may result in muscle strain affecting the lower back or neck. Avoid sitting or standing in the same position for long periods, and try to sleep in positions that don’t put too much pressure on your spine.
When you do experience back pain, go-to remedies such as applying heat or ice may soothe sore muscles and increase circulation. Be mindful of activities that trigger back pain, and make an effort to avoid certain movements. If these remedies aren’t providing sufficient relief, talk to your doctor or set up an appointment with Dr. Hyun Bae at The Spine Institute. Regardless of your age, diagnosing and treating spine-related conditions sooner rather than later increases your odds of returning to your daily routine without distracting pain.
No matter your age, it’s important to preserve your spine health. If you’re over 60 and experiencing chronic pain in your back or neck, the expert surgeons at The Spine Institute Center may have a solution to help you find relief. We specialize in a variety of spinal procedures, from traditional spinal fusion to cervical disc replacement surgery. Beverly Hills seniors can call 310-828-7757 today to schedule an appointment.