Have concerns about your overall spinal health, and perhaps about damage that has already been done. But did you know you it’s never too late to mitigate damage and put the “heal” back into “health”? Here is our best advice for how to manage your spinal health from 25 to 105!
1 – Manage your intake of inflammatory foods – and combat them with anti-inflammatory foods.
By this we mean: overly-processed foods, excess red meat or dairy, and refined sugars (including foods that rapidly break down into sugars, such as white breads). The reason inflammatory foods can interact poorly with your spine is not only how they cause weight gain – causing undue stress on your spine – but also because every movement you make involves your spine, and therefore every muscle you use needs to have essential nutrients delivered steadily. Inflammatory foods do not have a high instance of nutrition, depriving your muscles of much-needed vitamins, minerals, and calories. Some anti-inflammatory foods to incorporate into your diet to defend you in this battle include: turmeric, leafy greens, walnuts, and salmon.
2 – Move!
As simple as it sounds, you yourself may be or may know one of many people who remain seated for extended parts of their day, who don’t make time to stand, stretch, walk, et cetera while working or relaxing. This keeps your hip flexors too tense, and puts you at risk for ischemia (where blood flow is restricted, particularly to the buttocks). Those muscles are doing their part by supporting your spine, and you can support them by moving around for just one minute every half hour. Sitting for extended periods of time is linked to higher mortality from any cause according to a report from 2015 in Annals of Internal Medicine, so don’t fall prey to the temptation to stay put!
3 – Stop smoking.
As noted above, inflammation is an enemy of spinal health, as is vasoconstriction (tightening blood vessels). Well, smoking is a triple threat: when you intake nicotine, your blood vessels tighten, oxygen and nutrients are prevented from serving the spine, and inflammation worsens.
If you’re trying all of the above and you still have chronic pain, or even periodic flare-ups, it’s time to reach out to spine.md. You were not designed to be constantly sated by unhealthy foods, constantly seated at work, or constantly stimulated by nicotine. But if you’ve eliminated these bad habits and pain in your back and neck are still persistent, working with a doctor for a more comprehensive plan is the answer.