What I’ve been talking about over the past several weeks are some things that really count when it comes to long term back health and today I will talk about another one of those things. Do this right and your back (and the rest of your body) will be much happier and healthier.
Todays topic is Back Health Strategy Number 3- Resistance Training.
Resistance training makes up the foundation of nearly every exercise program that experts recommend for maintenance of health, whether it is mental health, heart health, muscle health, bone health, or the health of any other part of our body. I use this term “resistance training” because this type of exercise is very different than the type of exercise people may get from their sports, chores, yard-work, gardening, dancing or other physical activities.
Resistance training uses specific types of resistance that will stimulate the development of individual muscles within the body, making them healthier, stronger and better able to support and protect the bones and joints. This resistance will also directly improve the strength of the connective tissues which are critical for preventing or recovering from back injuries.
Resistance training stimulates the cells to regenerate and can actually slow down the aging process of the cells. This is a benefit that most are not aware of, but resistance training exercise is one of the closest thing to a “fountain of youth” that there is. Here’s how it works-
There exists in your body a cellular balance, which is a comparison of how many cells you lose vs. how many cells you regenerate in a given time period. Your skin cells, hair cells, bone cells, muscle cells, organ cells, blood cells and all other cells have a certain lifespan. Some of these cells have a short lifespan of a few days, while others have a longer lifespan of a few years. At some point over the next few years, every cell is eventually going to die and hopefully, it will be replaced with a new cell. This is a process that is going on all throughout our lives.
As we age, this cellular balance begins to skew. When we are very young our cellular balance is such that we lose less cells than we regenerate, and this is how we grow, develop and mature. When we reach our mid-twenties, this cellular balance begins to level, meaning that we lose about as many cells that we regenerate. As we grow older, the cellular balance skews in the opposite direction and we begin to lose more cells than we are able to regenerate, which is what aging is. This is why as we get older we can lose bone cells (osteoporosis), muscle cells, skin cells (lack of elastin), hair cells, and organ cells (deterioration). It happens on all levels.
Although we are unable to eliminate this aging decline, we are able through intentional, strategic and consistent decisions to slow the aging decline. As opposed to it being an intense drop in cellular regeneration, we can slow the drop. Resistance training exercise stimulates the cells in our body and signals our brain and DNA to create new cells. The old saying “if you don’t use it you lose it” is no more true than in this case because any time you stimulate a cell, you are signaling to the body that it is essential and it needs to hold onto it.
If your bones, muscles, ligaments, disks and nerves are dying off faster than they should due to lack of proper stimulation, you will experience problems. You will experience a drop in strength and a lower resistance to injury. You will become more likely to develop a joint condition that can cause extreme pain. It is important to take the steps that are necessary to prevent these types of things from happening. Resistance training exercise plays an essential role in prevention, and there are other things that can influence it too, such as: diet, sleep, hydration, etc. However, if you maintain all of those things and do not do resistance training, you are not going to reap anywhere near the benefits you will experience if you had done resistance training without excellent maintenance of the other factors.
But wait, the benefits of resistance training don’t stop with just enhanced cellular regeneration, there are others that make a big difference too. In the next installment I will explain some of these benefits and will deliver some examples of resistance training exercises you can do to help improve the health of your spine.