3 Good Habits to Prevent Spinal Degeneration

25 May 2019
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Spinal degeneration, also known as degenerative disc disease by your spine specialist and family doctors, is a common age-related condition that happens to our spine as the cushion in between our spine bone (vertebrae) degenerates. The cushion behaves like a shock absorber to prevent damage to our spine bone as we move around. Like all other organs, it gets weaker as we age. 
 
 Spinal degeneration is more prevalent among the aged population. Recently, age of spinal degeneration patients is getting younger. Some common complication of spinal degeneration includes arthritis and spinal stenosis (narrowing of joints between spine bone). In extreme case the spine bones are virtually fused and unable to move. The patient will experience heavy pain and reduced range of motion. 

The good news is that everyone of us can delay the onset or even prevent complications from spinal degeneration with good habits.
 
 1. Maintaining an Active Lifestyle

If you have ever visited any old house that hasn’t been inhibited for years, take a close inspection at the hinges of the doors. They are rusty. They produce squeaky sound when you try to open the door. Our joints are mechanical, just like those hinges. If we do not move, our joints will degenerate. 

The simplest form of exercise is walking. Walking is a form of aerobic exercise. Besides keeping your joints, tendons, and muscles strong, it helps in maintaining a healthy heart. Walking keeps your blood circulate well so nutrients can be sent to your joints. It promotes healing and keep your joints strong.
 
 Swimming is a form of exercise which is gentle to the joints. Swimming involves large range of motion. If you experience painful knees when you walk, you might want to try swimming instead. The water keeps us afloat and the buoyancy force relieves our knees from the stress of gravitational force acting on our body mass. 
 
 

2. Dietary Approach

 While there are no common pills circulating in the market to reverse spinal degeneration, watching your dietary intake and maintaining a balanced diet does help preventing it. 
 
 Essential nutrients such as calcium and Vitamin D are crucial for bone building and recovery. Regular intakes of high calcium foods such as seeds, cheese, milk, leafy green vegetables, and sardines 
 
 Vitamin D can be found naturally in fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon. Egg yolks, cheese, and beef liver also contain small amount of Vitamin D. 

 

3. Good Body Mechanics
 
While machines and computers has made our life easier, but most of our population hasn’t grown healthier and stronger from using them. Sedentary lifestyle has prompted people to maintain poor postures.
 
 If you are in an office, look around and notice how most of your colleagues sit when they work. If you are at home, check out how your kids lie on the crouch watching TV, how they bend their necks playing on their smart phones.
 
 No medication or nutrition can replace good body mechanics. Habitual poor body mechanics is a long term threat to our spinal health and we couldn’t emphasis more on the importance of maintaining a proper posture.
 
 We will cover some tips of good postures in the next articles but for the time being, a general rule to take care of your spines is always maintain symmetrical postures. E.g. When you notice your body obviously slanting to either side, be it to the front, back, left, right, you are already putting a lot of stresses on your spinal bones.
 
 Conclusion

To sum up, if you wish to protect your one and only spine, and live your later life free of pain, get away from your electronics and get moving more frequently, instead of eating snacks with empty calories, eat naturally grown food rich in nutrition, and always be mindful of your postures – always.