5 Daily Habits to Age-Proof Your Back, Expert Says
The last thing you want to hear yourself say as you get older is, "Oh, my aching back!" A weak back can be debilitating at any age, and having one can make life incredibly challenging, as you become much less independent. Don't fret, because we have you covered with five daily habits to age-proof your back, according to an expert.
There are many things you may be doing regularly that are harmful to your back health, and you're not alone. Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM, the Director of Medical Content & Education at Ro and a member of our Medical Expert Board, tells us, "One of the most common complaints in the doctor's office is low back pain. And issues with the back are also visibly noticeable as people age. Ever realize that people tend to get shorter as they get older? Part of the reason for this is because of compression of the spine over time, due to weakened vertebral bones and dried-out, compressed discs."
This may sound pretty discouraging, but you can be proactive and start to include several steps in your self-care routine each day to help your back. Keep reading to learn more about Dr. Bohl's top-recommended habits, and next, don't miss 5 Daily Exercises To Improve Muscular Endurance as You Age.
Strengthen your back muscles with some solid core exercises.
Exercising is crucial to perform on a regular basis when it comes to taking care of yourself. As far as your back is concerned, strengthening the muscles is essential.
Dr. Bohl advises, "Exercises that target the core, the lower back, and the legs are good to focus on. These muscles help stabilize the spine, holding it in the correct position and preventing injury and pain."
In addition to moves like planks and abdominal crunches, research shows that yoga can be very beneficial in boosting the range of motion in your joints and helping to enhance your posture.
Maintain a healthy diet to prevent back strain.
It's always important to maintain a healthy diet for so many reasons. You'll look and feel your best, but you will also be protecting your back.
"A common cause of back pain is obesity, since extra weight compresses the spine and also puts extra strain on the muscles holding the spine erect. Following a healthy diet that prioritizes fruits and vegetables and lean proteins and that cuts out processed foods and excess sugars can help you keep your weight down, putting less pressure on the spine," Dr. Bohl tells us.
Be sure to include enough calcium and Vitamin D each day.
Calcium and vitamin D are very important factors in your overall wellness, so be sure to have enough each day. You can get proper amounts in your food or take supplements.
Dr. Bohl warns, "Osteoporosis is a common condition in older age and can lead to vertebral fractures, causing pain. Calcium and vitamin D can give you your best chance of maintaining strong bones, including in the back."
Stand up straight, and be mindful of keeping good posture.
You may not think that posture really matters much more than making a good impression with your appearance. To the contrary, Dr. Bohl explains, "Posture plays an important role in how your back feels, so it's important to regularly check in on your posture as you go about your day—especially if you're someone who works at a desk job. The spine has natural curvatures that—in part—do a good job acting as shock absorbers. But if you don't have good posture, you may be compressing parts of your spine and putting more stress than usual on the muscles that connect to the spine, which can all lead to pain."
There are steps you can take to help, including purchasing an ergonomic chair for your desk. This type of seating will help you sit correctly. There are other items you can consider using as well to help with your posture, including a brace or a small vibrating device that will alert you when you begin to slouch.
Lift things properly, using your legs and not your back.
In order to age-proof your back, listen to this old, but great, advice. When lifting things, use your leg strength and not your back.
"Whenever you're lifting something heavy, it's better to squat down and lift using your leg muscles rather than bending over and lifting with the lower back muscles," Dr. Bohl says. By doing this, you can avoid injury to your lower back, which can save you from enduring pain down the road.