Strength is the key to physical freedom to function the way we want every day. Back and spinal complications are one of the most common types of medical complaints and injuries in the world today. Strengthening your spine can help prevent pain and discomfort. Knowing how to build strength in your spine and back the right way is essential to help prevent injury as well.
Below are a few tips you can use to help strengthen your spine to keep it happy and healthy.
Perform Regular Stretches
Stretching the muscles is important for restoring range of motion and preventing injury. Gently stretching before and after any physical exercise or exertion can help reduce muscle soreness and keep your muscles long and flexible. Try using resistance bands to help stretch and improve muscle stability.
Exercise can help strengthen the spine and strengthen surrounding muscles that support the spine. Focus on core muscles in your lower back and abdominals. These muscle groups can help take pressure off of your spine.
But there are other forms of exercise to consider too. Two of the most commonly recommended forms of exercise for the elderly are walking and swimming. Both activities have low impact on joints and mobility. While improved aerobic capacity is good for the cardiopulmonary system and can be beneficial for most seniors.
Avoid Heavy Lifting
Avoid heavy lifting. While you might be tempted to lift heavy weights or move large objects, remember that you aren't your 20-year-old self anymore. As a general rule, avoid lifting things that are more than 25% more than your own body weight.
Maintain Low Stress Levels
Stress can often play a big part in back pain. When we are stressed, our muscles tense up, which can lead to pain and discomfort — it can also lead to memory loss! If you can identify sources of stress in your life, try to avoid them. We also recommend looking for ways to relax and loosen your muscles.
Yoga is also a great option for seniors who want to improve their spine and keep their stress levels low. Yoga can help strengthen core muscles and improve posture to relieve the strain on your spine. Plus, it helps with balance and relaxation, providing multiple benefits to seniors.
Buy a Supportive Mattress & Pillow
Are you sleeping well at night? Your mattress could be contributing to pains and aches you feel in the morning. Try out a more supportive mattress, a better pillow, a supportive mattress pad, or a different sleeping position to see if your back feels better. A quality mattress and pillow can help your spine truly relax at night so you can feel rejuvenated in the morning.
Get the Right Shoes
Whether you are walking around the grocery store or around the block, your footwear plays an important role in maintaining a healthy spine. Look for shoes that have a supportive base and that help keep your spine in alignment. Remember that your shoes should be snug but not too tight. Seniors may find that orthotics work best for the added balance and comfort.
This tip may sound strange, but to maintain a strong spine, you actually have to practice how you sit. Sitting for long periods of time can aggravate your spine, especially if you slouch or lean forward. If you have to sit for long periods of time during the day, choose the right chair. Get up and walk or stretch every 20 to 30 minutes.
Just by adding 30 to 60 minutes of stretching, exercising and endurance exercises to your daily routine can improve your mobility and strengthen your spine in less than 60 days. If you have questions about appropriate exercises, notice a change, or are concerned about back pain, consult your primary care physician for help.
For more senior exercises, check out our infographic with balance exercises for seniors.
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