Providing high quality and thorough chiropractic care to people of all ages.
The spine is made of up 25 moving bones, including seven in your neck, twelve in your middle back, five in your low back and a bony plate at the base of your spine called the sacrum. Each of these bones have a lot of spike like structures at the back, where muscles and ligaments attach to help each bone move properly. The bones also have a small disc made of cartilage between each of them, to help cushion movement and absorb shock. Between the joints of each vertebrae, large nerves (called spinal nerves) exit from openings next to the cartilage discs and go to your body’s muscles, organs, tendons, joints and everything else to allow communication between your brain and your body.
Our spines are very precious, so maintaining good spinal health is very important for a long and fulfilling life. So what is spinal health? To put it simply, spinal health means that the spine’s bones all move freely around, and allow the spinal nerves to work the way they are supposed to. Sometimes, people who do not look after their spines can get severe injuries such as disc bulges or spinal sprains from something as light as a sneeze, and others injure their spines in an accident or by lifting something heavy. Whatever the case, returning the spine to its mobile, healthy state is the best way to recover from these injuries.
One of the most common things I hear in practice, especially on the very first consultation I have with patients, is ‘I get all this pain, but I’m just getting old so I guess it’s normal’. Resigning to the idea that pain is just part of the ageing process is a common misconception! While it is true that problems such as spinal degeneration, disc damage and other problems become more common as you age, it doesn’t mean we can’t do anything about them.
Conditions such as spinal arthritis, chronic back pain, neck pain or shoulder pain become more common as we age, however it is still important not to view these problems as ‘normal’. This is because there are plenty of ways to minimise these conditions – there wouldn’t be pain there if everything was as it should be and the spine was healthy. Another reason why it is important not to view these pains as ‘normal’ is because they can sometimes be indicative of a larger problem occurring. For this reason, as we age (or any age!), it is important to get aches and pains assessed by health professionals.
All that said, here are some top tips to maintain a healthy spine as you age.
A healthy diet means providing your spine with all the necessary nutrients it requires to build and maintain strong ligaments, cartilage, muscle and bone tissue.
Sleep removes weight from your spine, and allows the tissues in and around your spine to rest and recover after standing or sitting during the day.
Poor lifting habits often leads to injury at some point, especially if poor lifting technique is repeated over and over again.
There are few faster routes to chronic back pain than leaving an injury unchecked, especially if it hasn’t gone away in an expected time frame on its own.
In summary, spinal health is important to maintain for a long and fulfilling life free of pain and stiffness. While pain and stiffness are more common as we age, often these problems can be minimised with appropriate management. If you are getting aches and pains and aren’t sure what to do about it, contact Total Health Chiropractic or your local health care professional.
By Dr. Beau Kenihan (Chiropractor)