Sarcopenia is universal
Risk factors for sarcopenia include age, gender, and level of physical activity.
Everyone on earth is affected by the loss of muscle mass that comes with aging. But it is not the same for everyone, and only you get to decide how severe sarcopenia can really be. Sarcopenia sets in at some point during our thirties, and this beginning stage is perhaps the most crucial. Moderately active people may notice insignificant changes in muscle mass while inactive people may lose as much as 3-5 percent per year! This is a particularly bad precedent to set when you consider that sarcopenia only accelerates as we reach toward our sixties and seventies.
Today, watch out for when the Comfy Couch Turns Ugly
Your sofa should be a place for relaxation
The world will be watching the Kansas City Chiefs play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers today, and most will be watching from a reclined couch while stuffing their face with carbs. This ritual has become a tradition that hinges on becoming a national holiday in America as the Super Bbowl grows in popularity every year. It makes sense too, because from the comfort of your home you can watch others mercilessly pound each other and be glad it is not your spine getting crunched play after play. But believe it or not, your spine is not entirely same either.
Sitting for long periods of time is hard on your spine
Studies show that sitting loads your spine with up to 3 times as much pressure as standing. What's more, few sofas offer the support necessary to encourage you to maintain good posture. Most of us end up melting into the couch, which can have serious consequences for your spine if you spend a lot of time watching television or reading. Chances are, you are not going to stop sitting on the couch; instead, you can take proactive steps to relieve the stiffness that besets your back after sitting on the sofa for long periods of time.
Stretches to relieve back tension after a sofa session
- Spinal Twist: Sit up straight in a chair and slowly rotate your torso to one side, grabbing the back of the chair if you can. Only go until you feel a gentle stretch in the shoulder and oblique muscles of the core
- Spinal Elongation: stand straight up then bend at the waist and hang with your fingers reaching down toward your toes. Don't go any further than the feeling of a gentle stretch. From here slowly raise back up to a standing-tall position then reach your hands up toward the sky and clasp them together. Hold for 3-5 seconds.
- Stretch the Neck: clasp your hands on the back of your head and lower your chin toward your chest until you feel a gentle stretch in the neck muscles.
- Stretch the hamstrings: the hamstrings are paired muscles which get tight and create a pull on the lower back, often resulting in uneven alignment of the spine. Sit on your butt with one leg tucked in criss-cross apple sauce and the other extended. Reach for the foot of the extended leg until you feel a slight stretch in the hamstring.
These stretches target the hamstrings, lower back, shoulders and neck, all the areas which are prone to tightness after a sofa session. Taking 3 minutes to stretch after an hour of sitting on the sofa can work wonders toward undoing the cycle of tension that eventually leads to back pain.
Please do yourself one more favor today when you get up during the halftime show, walk past the chips and soda and 7 layer dip. See if you can find a carrot to crunch on. And as you hear that crisp cool carrot shatter in your mouth, be glad that is not the spine of your favorite quarterback making the crunching noise on this great American holiday known as Super Bowl Sunday.
Walking is essential for life
The health benefits of walking are well known, but for the purposes of this blog here’s a quick reminder:
- Boosts circulation
- Releases pain-killing endorphins
- Strengthens bones and muscles
- Maintains range of motion
- Manages weight
The basic health benefits of a good walk are too many to ignore. On days when you can’t spare a second to make it to the gym, a brisk walk may be the only physical boost your body receives. Yet, far too few of us are getting the daily steps we need to reap such benefits. Here is our guide to getting more steps throughout the day.
What are the simple things you can do?
#1: Be proactive. You know that as you age, you face muscle and bone loss at accelerating rates. So why do you choose to do nothing about this? Slight changes in diet and activity levels help you offset the majority of this negative change.
2: Move more. We live in a sedentary society. Studies show that people who sit for 6+ hours a day have shorter lifespans than those who sit for only 3. Sitting may not be a disease but it certainly contributes to a lot of pain and dysfunction. As practitioners of spinal health, we are able to see the effects of sitting on a daily basis, and they are not pretty! So get up and go! Move for your life.
#3 Be mindful. Take things like posture seriously. Choose to adjust your body position often and always be aware of how your spine feels. If it needs to stretch, stretch; if it needs hydration, hydrate. As humans, we are so good at ignoring the things that make us feel truly well. It's time to stop ignoring the pleas for help from your spine.
#4 Seek help. Spinal health can be an overwhelmingly large subject to tackle by yourself; even more so when you are in the grips of chronic back pain. Seeking help from a spinal health care specialist ensures that you get the care you need to take care of your condition effectively. Give our office a call to schedule an appointment today.
Spinal health through nutrition is not a far-fetched idea
In fact, it is a very sound idea that too many of us ignore! Diet forms part one of the triad of factors that help you manage your own spinal health, along with exercise and sleep, (posture coming in a close fourth). You can choose ingredients that fortify your spine, as well as ones that directly address and reduce back pain. Fortunately, dieting for your spine overlaps with healthy dieting in general, with a few specifications. If you are looking for some inspiration to improve your spinal health this new year, check out our guide below for some sound advice.