Almost six in ten adults in the United States live with pain. Back pain, in turn, is the most prevalent type, affecting nearly 40% of the adult population. What’s more, it’s not just common among older adults; it impacts even those younger than 65.
The good news is that back pain is treatable and even preventable as long as you keep your spine healthy.
So, to help you keep back pain at bay, we came up with this guide on the top tips for healthy spines. Read on to discover what you can do today to protect all the structures that make up your back.
Feast on Potassium-Rich Foods
Potassium is an essential mineral that maintains normal fluid levels in the cells. It also aids in muscle contraction and promotes healthy blood pressure.
What’s more, it appears that potassium can help reduce bone resorption. Bone resorption, in turn, is the destruction of bone tissues; thus, it promotes bone loss. From there, it can lead to bone mass and density reduction and cause osteoporosis.
According to scientists, potassium reduces bone resorption by limiting urine-excreted calcium. That results in the neutralization of acid and the preservation of bone minerals.
Fortunately, many veggies are rich in potassium, particularly dark leafy greens. That makes spinach, Swiss chard, and bok choy some of the best foods for spine health and overall bone health.
Fresh fruits, including apricots, avocadoes, bananas, cantaloupes, and kiwi, contain potassium, too. You can also get this essential nutrient from potatoes, mushrooms, and kidney beans. Moreover, you can find it in fish like wild salmon, halibut, trout, and flounder.
Get More Vitamin D
Did you know that up to 90% of vitamin D created by the body comes from sunlight? The body then sources the remaining 10% from the food and beverages you consume.
Thus, vitamin D deficiency can occur due to insufficient sun exposure and a diet lacking in it.
The thing is, vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, a mineral necessary for bone health. For that reason, vitamin D deficiency can lead to hypocalcemia (calcium deficiency). Untreated, it can contribute to or cause osteoporosis.
Therefore, you want to expose your skin to sunshine a few days a week for optimal back health. Depending on where you live and your skin color, you may have to sunbathe for 10 to 30 minutes. Moreover, midday, when the sun’s ultraviolet B rays are most intense, appears to be the best time to soak in the sun.
As for vitamin D-containing foods, salmon, tuna, cod liver oil, and beef liver are some of your options. You can also get it from fortified products, such as orange juice, dairy, and cereals.
Develop Proper Posture
Posture refers to how you hold your body in a specific position. There are two types: dynamic posture and static posture.
Dynamic posture is the posture you hold when you move, such as walking, running, or bending over.
By contrast, static posture is the posture you keep while your body doesn’t move. For instance, it’s your still position while sitting, standing, or sleeping.
Correct dynamic and static postures are essential to maintaining your spine’s natural curves. On the other hand, poor posture, such as sitting with your back slumped for long periods, can lead to lower back pain.
The key to proper posture is to keep your head above your shoulders at all times. The top of your shoulders should also be right above your hips, not too far to the front, back, or side.
For example, a proper sitting posture involves relaxing your shoulders. Your back should be straight and flush to a chair’s back support, too. By ensuring your back always touches the back of a chair, you can keep your shoulders from drooping.
Stay On Top of Your Weight
Being overweight or obese can raise one’s likelihood of developing lower back problems. That means uncontrolled weight may make you more susceptible to lower back pain.
One possible reason is that extra weight in the midsection can push the pelvis forward. When that happens, it can cause the spine to develop an excessive inward curve. That may lead to abnormal pressure on the back muscles; thus, pain may follow.
In addition, excessive weight may exacerbate or contribute to disc herniation. It’s a condition wherein the spinal discs bulge, crack, or tear. Those damages can cause them to protrude into and irritate nearby muscles and nerves.
Spine osteoarthritis may also worsen or accelerate due to uncontrolled weight. In that case, more of the spine’s disc and joint cartilage can break down, causing even more pain. It may also result in or intensify weakness in the arms and legs.
So, to prevent those from happening, maintain optimal weight through regular exercise. Avoid or reduce your intake of fatty, sugary, and salty foods, too.
Visit a Spine Doctor
One in four US adults aged 65 or older suffers from a fall each year. However, more than half choose not to tell their doctor. Unfortunately, once you fall, your chances of falling again can double.
It’s also vital to note that falling down a few steps can already cause a fracture in older adults. The impact can also lead to a spinal nerve becoming impinged or compressed. In addition, the force may injure the lower back muscles, causing even more discomfort.
For those reasons, never underestimate a fall, as it can lead to debilitating pain. It may also make you afraid of falling, which can then cause you to cut back on your activities. That can force you to become less active, only making you weaker.
So, if you’ve been in a fall or experienced any back trauma, it’s best to visit a spine doctor.
Even if you end up needing surgery, you may only have to get a minimally-invasive procedure. According to Howellallen.com, such surgeries involve incisions less than one inch long. As a result, you may require a shorter hospital stay while still recovering faster.
Aging Gracefully With Healthy Spines
Always remember that healthy spines don’t only look more aesthetic. They’re also crucial for shock absorption, optimal body strength, and overall mobility. That’s why it’s essential to keep yours as healthy as possible so that you can age with grace and feel less pain.
So, starting today, try as many of our healthy spine tips. Your back is sure to thank you for it.
Are you interested in reading more informative health guides like this? If so, feel free to check out our other posts on this topic!