Thursday, 12 October 2023 16:53

Your Musculoskeletal Health: Take Steps to Strength and Stability

By Dr. Matt Smith, DC | Families Today
Your Musculoskeletal Health: Take Steps to Strength and Stability

The musculoskeletal system is the “backbone” of your body, literally. It’s comprised of not only the spine but all your muscles, bones and joints. It’s what gives your body form. It’s what makes it possible for you to move and do the things you enjoy. Keeping this vital system strong is essential for a full and active life.

When your musculoskeletal system is functioning well, you feel stronger and healthier; however, when there’s a problem, you might experience pain and even disability. More than one in two adults report experiencing a musculoskeletal condition such as back pain, neck pain, joint pain, arthritis and osteoporosis. They are the most commonly reported medical conditions among those under age 65 and the second most common condition for people aged 65 and older.

Musculoskeletal conditions become more common as we age, sometimes limiting our ability to move and accomplish everyday activities. This can affect overall health negatively by contributing to lack of physical activity, which can in turn lead to obesity and chronic conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

Nurturing musculoskeletal health over a lifetime begins with good nutrition, adequate hydration and healthy habits such as regular rest and physical activity. Prevention is also key; we can reduce the risk of pain and injury by improving our posture and movement techniques as well as the ergonomics of our work and home environments.

The American Chiropractic Association offers the following small steps to take toward better musculoskeletal health:

• Move more. Bones, muscles and joints need movement to stay healthy. The U.S. surgeon general recommends adults get at least 150 minutes weekly of moderate physical activity (walking, yard work, recreational swimming, etc.) or at least 75 minutes of intense weekly activity (jogging, hiking uphill, basketball, etc.)

• Eat a balanced diet. Proper nutrition is just as important to musculoskeletal health as it is to overall health. Eat a balanced diet that includes whole fresh foods and try to avoid processed foods. Be sure to get enough calcium and vitamin D for your bones and lean protein to build and maintain strong muscles.

• Go outside! The sun helps our bodies produce Vitamin D, which in turn helps to absorb calcium and strengthen bones.

• Do weight-bearing exercises. Walking, jogging and resistance exercises such as weightlifting can improve bone density. Planks and squats can also strengthen core muscles. Non-weight-bearing exercises such as swimming and biking can benefit the musculoskeletal system as well, especially for people unable to walk or jog while recovering from back, hip or knee pain.

• Stay hydrated. Drinking water makes muscles stronger by carrying oxygen to the cells of the body. It also helps lubricate and cushion joints.

• Quit smoking. It contributes not only to cardiovascular disease but also osteoporosis and bone fracture as we age.

• Get adequate rest. A good night’s sleep enables your body to repair muscles and joints that are strained or injured during the day.

• Don’t drink too much alcohol. Drinking alcohol excessively can lead to osteoporosis and bone fracture.

• Practice good posture. It helps keep bones and joints in correct alignment so our muscles work more efficiently, saving energy and reducing fatigue while decreasing the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that can lead to degenerative arthritis and joint pain.

• Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can put stress on joints, especially as we age, leading to an increased risk of injury. However, being underweight can increase the risk of bone loss and fracture.

• Improve movement techniques to avoid strain and injury. Lifting tip: When picking up heavy items from the floor, do not bend over at the waist; instead, kneel down on one knee, as close as possible to the item you are lifting, with the other foot flat on the floor and pick up the item. Alternatively, bend both knees, keeping the item close to your body, and lift with the legs.

• Limit screen time. Neck pain and poor posture can result from spending too much time looking down at your tablet or cell phone. Spend less time on mobile devices and do stretch and extension exercises regularly. Bring your shoulder blades together and stand up tall.

• Be proactive and prevent falls. Remove throw rugs, low furniture, cords and other trip hazards on the floor; review medications with your doctor that could affect balance; have your vision checked; and start an exercise routine to improve strength, balance, coordination and flexibility.

By strengthening your musculoskeletal system, you can stay healthier and engaged in the activities that matter most to you.

Whatever your health goals are, your doctor of chiropractic can help. Chiropractors practice a hands-on, non-drug approach to health care. In addition to their expertise in spinal manipulation, they have broad diagnostic skills and are trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, as well as to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle advice.

Dr. Matt Smith has been a Chiropractor in Saratoga Springs for the past 37 years. He and his daughter Dr Kevy Smith Minouge can be reached at www.mysaratogachiropractor.com or call 518 587-2064.

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