Dealing with back pain as we get older

June 17, 2016

5 min read

The Wisdom of an Aging Back

Ah, the joys of getting older and dealing with back pain. As our body and back changes as we get older, so should our behaviors. The challenge is to recognize these changes because they are affected by many different factors, including, physical activity, diet, weight, height, life experiences and genetics. These all play major factors on how we approach an aging back.

Understanding our own body’s history helps prepare us for dealing with back pain as we get older. So let’s breakdown the factors that contribute to your history.

Physical Activity

Physical Activity or lack there of can significantly influence how health your back is a you age. Being physically active doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to have less back pain as you get older. The reality is that it depends on the type of physical activity. A person that plays high impact sports, like, football, basketball, volleyball, rugby, etc. and/or sports that put increased stress on the spine, like, golf or tennis are more likely to deal with back pain as they get older vs. a person that does yoga, Pilates, cycling.

Lack of physical activity will definitely increase the risk of back pain due to decreased back strength and increased static postures.

As we get older, it is important to stay active with a good balance of cardiovascular and strength training exercise. We just need to take in account what our body has already been through.


We are what we eat, is ever so true. Keeping our back healthy requires a proper balanced diet. A person with a healthy diet has a healthier weight, and provides the proper nutrients to the nervous system, bony structures of the back and to the discs that connect these bony structures. Poor diet over time weakens these structures and will lead to a higher risk of back pain as we get older.

As we get older, diet becomes more important, not just from a weight management standpoint, but also a nutritional standpoint we can get much more sensitive. Some of the foods and drinks we drank in our youth may not settle as well with us in our older years and can have a negative affect on our body


Every person is different and so is their healthy weight. If you are overweight, it will put extra stress on your back, therefore, increasing the potential for pain. These stresses can create permanent damage to the back and spine, resulting in lifelong pain management.

As we get older, controlling our weight becomes more difficult. A slowing metabolism and decreased activity can be to blame. But with proper diet and exercise you can help to keep your back and spine healthy.


Simply put taller people are more likely to experience back pain vs. shorter people. We can thank the principles of leverage and gravity to that.

As we get older, we shrink. This is due to bone density loss and more importantly the degeneration of the discs in our spine. As these structures “shrink” the narrowing of space can put pressure on our nerves, resulting in impingement related back pain. Practicing proper posture and maintaining proper spinal alignment can help decrease the potential for height related back pain. It is never to late to practice!

Life experiences

Falls, accidents, things striking you, poor posture and lifting heavy objects can potentially affect your back health resulting in lifelong problems.

As we get older, the impact of our life experiences can be can be felt more often. There is no point in looking back and wondering, “What if?”, but we can look forward! Treating and managing these life experience conditions can help improve our quality of life.


Some people were blessed with genetics that helps them from rarely having any back pain. Some are challenged with structural defects of the spine resulting in a significantly increased risk of back pain.

As we get older, this is the 10% of life that we have no influence on. But understanding our family background and history, can help us be proactive in managing the risks later in life.

The body of our youth is one of learning and designed to absorb the challenges that can increase back pain. The body of our older years is one of wisdom and works best when we practice the wisdom gained from our youth!

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