The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) and chiropractors nationwide are encouraging the public to take simple steps toward better musculoskeletal (MSK) health during National Chiropractic Health Month (NCHM) this October. The MSK system is comprised of the spine as well as all the muscles, bones and joints of the body. Keeping this vital system strong is the focus of 2019’s "Strength. Stability. Success." campaign.
When the MSK system functions well, we feel stronger and healthier; however, when there's a problem we might experience pain and even disability. More than one in two adults report experiencing an MSK condition such as back pain, neck pain, joint pain, arthritis or osteoporosis. They are the most commonly reported medical conditions among those under age 65 and the second most common condition for people age 65 and older. Low back pain alone is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
"Chiropractors provide care that helps people improve musculoskeletal health and relieve conditions such as low back pain naturally, sometimes enabling them to avoid or reduce the need for riskier treatments such as prescription opioid pain medications and surgery," notes ACA President Robert C. Jones, DC.
This October, set yourself up for future stability and success by taking steps to improve the strength of your musculoskeletal system:
- 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 (such as walking, yardwork, recreational swimming) or at least 75 minutes of intense weekly activity (jogging, hiking uphill, basketball).
- 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 us 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 MSK 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. Smoking 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.
We can also reduce the risk of pain and injury to our MSK system by improving our posture and movement techniques as well the ergonomics of our work and home environments. Learn more at www.acatoday.org/NCHM.