Improve Musculoskeletal Health in the Older Adult

A healthy musculoskeletal system is one that is free of disease, illness, and injuries. But when you hit the age of 60 and above, certain conditions will affect muscles, bones and joints, tendons and ligaments, and tissues that help maintain the body's structure and form.

Age can weaken the musculoskeletal system, resulting in associated disorders, such as osteoarthritis, back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and other injuries that affect parts of the musculoskeletal system.

 

But you can do something to improve your musculoskeletal health at 60 or 70. There are preventative measures available and certain activities that you can do to slow down the progression of bone density loss and strengthen muscles.

How to Improve Musculoskeletal Health

Stay physically active

Did you know that the reason seniors are prone to muscle dysfunction is that of muscle atrophy from lack of exercise? The decrease in muscular strength, agility, and endurance are also a result of lack of mobility or prolonged inactivity. This underlines the importance of exercise which is effective in preventing and reversing many age-related changes to the musculoskeletal system.

Other physical activities that can strengthen bones, muscles, and joints include:

  • Muscle-strengthening activities to increase muscle strength and mass.

  • Balance and coordination exercises to improve balance and gait.

  • Weight-bearing exercises to maintain bone mass.

  • Stretching to help maintain flexibility of joints.

Apart from strength and flexibility exercises, cardiovascular activities should also be included.

Eat a balanced diet

A healthy plate in every meal can go a long way in preventing diseases of all kind and in maintaining the health all your body parts. A good amount of carbohydrates, fibre, protein, and heart-healthy fats should be part of your menu. Don't forget to aim for 5 servings of vegetables and fruits daily.

 

It is also important that you take in extra calcium and vitamin D, which are essential to help maintain bone health. 3 servings of vitamin-d fortified milk, yoghurt, cheese, and other calcium-rich foods will help you age without the bone loss.

You should also take dietary supplements that have the micronutrients essential to musculoskeletal health.

In a scoping review performed by the Italian Study Group on Healthy Aging by Nutraceuticals and Dietary Supplements (HANDS), results showed that there are 16 micronutrients that can help improve health of the musculoskeletal system – omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin B9, vitamin D, creatine, leucine, fluorides, beta-alanine, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K2. If you can’t get them from food, take dietary supplements that contain these micronutrients.

Make sure everything you eat or take in meet the required amounts for your age and sex. If you stay in an aged care facility or home cares, eating a balanced diet should be easy to achieve.

Reduce your risk factors of musculoskeletal disorders

Smoking is not only bad for your lungs but also for your bones because it reduces the blood supply to the bones, causing slower production of bone-forming cells. It also decreases the rate at which calcium is absorbed in your body, making your efforts of a calcium-rich diet ineffective.

As if that's not bad enough, smoking also affects the tissues in your muscular system, and rapidly breaks down hormones that build bones. So you might want to quit smoking if you want to give musculoskeletal health a chance.  

Excess alcohol and soda consumption also have a similar effect where calcium absorption is concerned. Because lack of calcium can lead to osteoporosis, limiting consumption is the perfect solution. If possible, take alcohol out of your drink list, especially because it can lead to joint inflammation.  

Undergo physical therapy for seniors

There are different therapies designed to help older people return to their normal lifestyles as much as possible and as quickly as possible. These include geriatric physical therapy, cardiopulmonary physical therapy, neurological physical therapy, and orthopaedic physical therapy. The last one is what you need to help treat musculoskeletal injuries, such as fractures, dislocations, and sprains and strains.

Orthopaedic physical therapy is also necessary for individuals who have undergone orthopaedic surgeries. It is one of the best ways to recover quickly, what with its goal to restore full function of bones, muscles, joints, and tendons and ligaments.  

Physio Connect provides specialised musculoskeletal services for people of all ages. We follow a holistic and integrated approach to health care in order to provide an effective treatment plan and one that meets your specific musculoskeletal healthcare requirements. Seniors or otherwise, contact us today for a chance of an improved and healthy musculoskeletal system.