Key word: preventing weak bones
That means that you start the process sooner rather than later. Though osteoporosis carries a strong genetic component, there are many lifestyle factors within your control that can make or break your bones' density and strength. While you may think of osteoporosis as a condition of the elderly, the truth is that every choice you make throughout all of your life counts. We can see the importance of this in under-30s: at this point in life, you are still accumulating bone mass; the choices you make at this early stage in life will have ramifications later down the years.
- Smoking directly interferes with bone accumulation by impeding the hormone calcitonin from building bones. It makes your bones brittle and more likely to fracture.
- Excessive drinking, especially during adolescence and young adults years, can dramatically affect bone density and increase your risk for osteoporosis in old age.
So if you needed any more incentive to moderate or quit your bad habits, your future self should be one of them. Let's take a look at more ways that you can live a preventive lifestyle that supports strong bones even against genetic factors.
Relaxing your spine to achieve better mobility
Mobility in the spinal joints is one of the most important factors in spinal health. But so many of us let our mobility decrease day by day until it reaches a point of causing serious damage. One way you can overcome this degenerative cycle is to practice mobilizing your back on a daily basis- even 5 minutes a day can give your back a serious boost in the fight to preserve mobility and integrity. Relaxation is the key: always approach these stretches with a calm attitude and breathe deeply throughout, to relieve tension in the musculature.
Our move of the week: seated lower and middle back mobilization
- Sit with your legs extended straight in front of you on a carpeted floor
- Bring one foot up and cross it over the other leg, coming to rest on the side of the knee.
- Now cross your opposite arm over your raised knee, letting your elbow rest on the knee and your forearm on the shin if possible.
- Push your arm against the raised leg and turn your body to look over your shoulder on the side of the raised knee.
- Hold 10-20 seconds.
- Repeat on the other side
Taking spinal mobility seriously in Sacramento
If you are interested in finding out about more small ways to keep your spine in a state of health and balance, give our office in Sacramento a call to schedule an appointment today. We are standing by to help you take a more holistic and preventive approach to caring for your spine.
Running is a double-edged sword when it comes to back pain
Running supports the pliability and range of motion of muscles throughout the body; it gets our heart rate up and our circulation flowing; as a weight-bearing exercise, it builds strong bones and strengthens muscles; it is so effective at burning calories and helping people maintain a healthy weight. All of these factors are of primary importance for people concerned with their spinal health. But on the other side of the sword, each stride represents a threat to your spinal health- the shock of a step ripples through the joints in your lower body and is eventually absorbed by the joints in the lower spine. This shock causes strain in the muscles and structures of the lower back, and it is why there is a high coincidence of lower back pain in the running community. So here you are, hopelessly addicted to running, but also concerned about your spine; what are you to do? Read on.
Tight hips offer a clear blueprint for lower back pain
Most people are loath to look at their hips as the source of their back pain. But if you sit a lot, you should consider this: tight hip flexors are a signal contributor to lower back pain. This group of five muscles connects the femur to pelvis and provides a crucial connection between the upper and lower body. While they help initiate movements and stabilize the transfer of forces, they can also be implicated in causing dysfunction and back pain. Here's how:
- The seated position involves an over-contraction of the hip flexors.
- As they remain tight, they lose their flexibility and train themselves to stay this way.
- Lost flexibility creates a pull on the pelvis which leads to Anterior Pelvic Tilt.
- APT and tight hip flexors make good posture hard to come by, and can change the curvature of your spine.
With a lack of support from the hip flexors and an imbalanced, unstable pelvis, your spine's very foundation is at risk.
But we have an action plan to help you overcome these risk factors. If we identify that you are suffering from tight hips, APT, or both, we enact an action plan with the following goals:
- Reversing APT retraining the pelvis into a neutral posture. We use pelvic tilt and bridge exercises to retrain your pelvis into a more supportive position.
- We focus on regular conditioning of the hip flexors to keep them open and pliable rather than contracted and inflexible.
- We restore alignment and stability in the vertebral segment of the lower back.
Once we have your pelvis, hips and lower back realigned and in a state of balance, we can focus on developing the muscles that matter for core and pelvic stability. Your hip flexors bear a large percentage of the burden for keeping both your hips and lower back strong and balanced. It's time to stop ignoring their role in your spinal health! Give our office in Sacramento a call to schedule an appointment today.
Your body shape determines how you carry your weight
Most women fit into four primary body shapes:
- Apple: triangle downwards, with weight accumulation primarily in the lower abdomen
- Pear: triangle upwards, weight accumulation primarily in the hips and thighs
- Banana: straight/rectangular, weight accumulation in the butt and abdomen
- Hourglass: triangles opposing and facing inwards, fat stored in the backs of the arms and inner thighs
These generalized shapes refer to your skeletal structure, and they are important because they determine where weight, from both muscle and fat, will be distributed throughout your body. Understanding your body shape is essential to understanding the way you carry your weight which has important implications in back pain.