People have been obsessed with staying young for almost all of recorded history. As the medical profession finds ways to keep people living longer, the problems with aging are becoming more obvious. Back pains are a common ailment for adults, and age only makes the pain worse. In fact one of the images that first springs to mind about older people includes the person holding their back.
You may not be able to stop the passage of time, but you can slow the aging process through proper care of your back. All of the things that your mother and teachers tell you to do as a child are habits that you should adapt. By strengthening your back from an early age, you can reduce the likelihood of problems, or minimize the pain if you are injured. Even if you aren’t young anymore, there are things you can do to help your back feel younger.
Start Strengthening Your Spine
If someone were to say that you are the backbone of a project or group, you know that means you are the main support. You are the spine of that project or group.
This shows just how the spine has come to be synonymous with support. Your spine is literally the support for your entire body. By strengthening it, you reduce the likelihood of suffering back pain. More importantly, you will ensure that your back can support you over the course of your life.
Here are some things you can do to focus on strengthening your spine and the muscles around it.
- Do planks, not sit-ups or crunches. While these older exercises can help strengthen a back, doing them wrong will do far more damage. Planks are just as effective, and it helps build other muscles.
- Work on your stomach muscles. One of the best ways to strengthen your spine is by not requiring it to be your only support. Strong muscles will provide support for your spine.
- Avoid repetitive movements that put a strain on your back.
- If you have to lift heavy objects, use a back brace to provide extra support.
- Stand Up and stretch over the course of a workday. If you just stand and stretch your arms over your head once an hour, you are helping your entire body, including your eyes. The human body was not designed to sit for long periods of time, so give it some movement every hour.
- Carry objects close to your body, including backpacks. This distributes the weight of the object over other body parts instead of straining the back and arms.
- Wear comfortable, well-balanced shoes.
- Avoid staring down at your phone or tablet. If you look around you now, there are probably people staring at their phones, their necks bending down. Over time, this will have an adverse effect, just like slouching.
- Meditate to help you get accustomed to sitting properly and learning to think about your body more often.
The Things You Know, You Should Do Regularly
Those things that you’ve been ignoring for years are exactly what you need to do to have a healthier back. Yes, it will be annoying. It will definitely take you a while to get accustomed to many of the things that you have been ignoring most of your life.
If you start today though, you will be on the road to keep your back healthy. In turn, this will help you look and feel younger longer.
- Good posture is essential, and it is required whether you are sitting or standing. Keeping your spine straight while help keeps the natural curvature.
- Exercise regularly. This is something else that helps your entire body, but things like swimming and regular walks help to keep your back muscles strong. It also builds confidence, which in turn helps you have better posture.
- Stretch your hamstrings before you work out. Tense hamstrings put additional strain on your back.
- Monitor your weight and make sure it isn’t putting extra stress on your back. Weight is not the only determining factor since weight lifters have body weights that don’t accurately reflect their health. However, most of us have a little extra weight that we can stand to lose by eating better. Being more aware of your weight will help you remember to watch what you eat.
- Don’t smoke. In addition to what it does to your lungs, smoking can harm the back, making it easier to injure and slower to heal.
- Don’t cross your legs. This is very bad for your body, including your back. This is part of proper posture, but you should be aware of this habit so that you can start to change it.
If you are already experiencing some pain in your back or neck (it can start in early adulthood or even the teenage years), there are several things you can do to manage the pain besides taking pain relievers.
Some of us have to learn the hard way. You can take this as an opportunity to start better caring for your back.
- Remember not to push through the pain. If your back is hurting, ignoring the pain will almost certainly make the pain worse later.
- Use the head rest of your car. These are designed to give your neck and back support. Instead of sitting too far forward, let your head and neck rest, taking some of the strain off of your back.
- Take deep breaths. As it helps you relax a little, it can help correct your posture.
It Isn’t Magic – It’s a Lifestyle Change
The best way to stop the aging process is to put emphasis on taking care of your back. By doing things that are healthy for your back, you are doing things that are healthy for your entire body. From regular exercise and good posture to a healthy diet, all of these contribute to looking and feeling younger well into middle age.
The most reliable way to look and feel younger is to be healthy. It is definitely more difficult, and when you are young it can seem unimportant. The older you get, the more you realize that having a strong back and body is as close to the Fountain of Youth as you can get.
About Dr. Brent Wells
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. is the founder of Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. The goal for Dr. Wells is to treat his patients with care and compassion while providing them with a better quality of life through his professional treatment.
Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe and Lifehack. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.