As a society, we’re pretty good about caring for acute ailments and chronic conditions that manifest themselves outwardly—where they’re visible to us and everyone else. For instance, when our nose is runny, we take a decongestant. If our hair is thinning or our skin is dry, we invest in products to remedy the situation. But what about silent conditions that bear no outward signs or symptoms? If we’re not careful to mind both the internal and external aspects of our complete health, we can create imbalances and subject ourselves to potential injury or illness.
Take for instance the musculoskeletal system—our body’s complex web of bones, ligaments, cartilage and tendons. This interweaving of bone and connective tissue bears the mammoth duty of not only providing structure and overall shape to the body but also promoting movement while protecting the body’s critical organs. Along the way, this system becomes susceptible to acute injuries—like breaks and sprains—but also chronic conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis, which begin without any outward symptoms.
Even so, invisible conditions can be anticipated and kept at bay with proper care and attention.
Importance of Maintenance
Good nutrition and consistent, active movement contribute significantly to the musculoskeletal system’s ability to perform and recover and can also help prevent chronic disease. So in addition to regular exercise, it’s important to consume a healthy diet that contains the following bone-boosting nutrients:
Calcium – needed to produce hydroxyapatite, which provides strength to the bones. Without hydroxyapatite, bones will be brittle and weak. Natural sources of calcium include leafy greens, white beans, and calcium-fortified items such as orange juice and breakfast cereal.
Phosphorus – works with calcium to form hydroxyapatite. Phosphorus is available in meat, fish, poultry and dairy products.
Vitamin D – once active, vitamin D acts as a hormone to regulate phosphorus and calcium, increase absorption and keeping bones healthy. Milk may be fortified with vitamin D but it can also be found in fatty fish, beef liver, egg yolks and some cheeses.
A Little Each Day
Along with the importance of good nutrition comes the benefit of regular, moderate-intensity activity. Kids often engage in sufficient physical activity just by being kids—running, jumping, climbing, riding bikes and participating in organized sports. These regular spurts encourage the resistance needed to build strong muscles and bones and also enhance the ability to perform critical agility, balance and coordination skills.
Of course, such vital activity isn’t just for kids. Adults need regular activity, too, to maintain a healthy musculoskeletal system. Unfortunately, too many adults either forego physical activity altogether or they take on a “weekend warrior” mentality and try to go from zero to 100; this can result in pushing the body too far, too fast, leading to injuries, tears and strains. So while you may not be able to live like a kid, find time for easy or moderate exercise at least three times a week and make sure to always warm up, cool down, and stretch before and after.
The Benefits of Prevention
The good news is that fixing sprains, strains and tears is easier than ever thanks to modern orthopaedic techniques, such as those used by Aspen Mountain Medical Center orthopaedic surgeon Bryan E. Scheer, M.D.. Replacement surgeries for knees and joints now offer impressively fast recovery times and get patients back to the active lifestyle they crave. Orthopaedic physicians also specialize in other diseases and injuries of the musculoskeletal system, including the inner (and unseen!) workings of the bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. If you ever find movement painful or restricted, it’s time to talk to Dr. Bryan Scheer about assessing your overall orthopaedic health.
At Aspen Mountain Medical Center, our mission is to be Southwest Wyoming’s number one choice for healthcare. Our 12 unique specialty offerings include anesthesiology, family medicine, gastroenterology, general surgery, and gynecology, internal medicine, orthopaedics, otolaryngology (ENT), pain management, pediatrics, podiatry and spine. Talk to your healthcare provider about scheduling a procedure at Aspen Mountain Medical Center, providing affordable and high-quality healthcare close to home.