When care starts with the bones

by DR BARRY KLUNER

IF YOU choose to live an unhealthy lifestyle, you are obviously aware of the consequences. Whether you believe that serious illnesses can affect you or not, that too is a choice.

Fortunately, in today’s modern sports world, golfers now understand the need to move more, get fit and be well. Many choose to be healthy with better lifestyle habits like eating well, getting enough sleep and keeping active on the course to prevent common diseases such as diabetes, stroke, obesity and heart disease.

In today’s high-tech world, social media constantly highlights ways to prevent disease, so you can live a longer life. However, what we don’t see enough of is what happens to other parts of your body that we just don’t think about.

Your body frame is made up of uniquely designed bones specifically shaped for the function they serve. Not really a hot table topic, but the human skeletal system actually plays a very important role in keeping us active and healthy by providing movement, support, blood cell production, mineral storage, hormone regulation and protection.

In fact, your spine is made up of specialised bones called vertebrae that not only help keep you upright, but also protect your gentle spinal cord and nerves as you bend, flex, twist and move through everything you do, including your golf swing!

Consider the obvious; when trauma occurs, fracture can certainly be expected. These fractures will usually heal over a few weeks’ time.

Non-traumatic fractures are different. Some diseases or conditions that affect bone integrity are silent stressors, slowly worsening as years go by and can affect bone integrity for a long time. One particular disorder can affect bone as you age, causing fractures without you even being aware of it.

Osteoporosis (“osteo” means bone, “porosis” means pores) is a disorder that can affect both men and women, but is most commonly detected in post-menopausal females.

It occurs more with age as bones start to lose density in their inner bony matrix itself, becoming porous. Over time, affected weight bearing bones are susceptible to fracture, causing change in both shape and function.

Normal bone is dense and strong, but can be affected by metabolic changes affecting the ratio of calcium and vitamin D absorption over time. Important weight bearing bones like the lower spine and hips then become more susceptible to fracture. Osteoporosis can also occur earlier in life, causing significant problems if left undetected or untreated over time.

Just because you are an adult and your skeletal development is considered complete doesn’t mean you don’t need to move anymore and take care of your skeletal system! Just like your muscle system, if you don’t keep an active lifestyle, your under-utilised muscle tissues will slowly shrink and develop layers of fat around them.

Get started on a healthy exercise regime and over time, your muscle will regain their potential to be strong and supportive throughout your activities.

Your skeletal system follows the same physiological principles. Your bone matrix serves as a dynamic physiological system that reacts and adapts to the way you move your body. Regular walks keep your bone density higher. Long sitting hours will not. You get the idea. That’s why taking a walk each day, or getting on the golf course regularly, is a great way to promote strong skeletal bones for life.

Early detection is essential in preventing osteoporosis-related problems. Golfers at risk (especially older females) should be tested for osteoporosis annually to avoid fractures and their consequences.

Consult your doctor on your next health check-up to see if you should be tested. Bone density scans are an easy and pain-free assessment with immediate results to let you know where you stand.

If diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia (pre-osteoporosis), your doctor will likely recommend prescription medications to help slow down and reverse the loss of calcium, while trying to increase the absorption rate of calcium and vitamin D back into your bones. These certainly have their place in helping to get your bone health back.

Chiropractic care plays an important role, too. Chiropractic care helps keep your nerve system functioning at peak efficiency, so your muscular and joint movements are efficient, along with the rest of your body systems.

Your chiropractor will also recommend many lifestyle changes, including reducing alcohol, quitting smoking
and opting for weight bearing exercises like taking a 30-minute walk every morning, so that sunlight can boost your vitamin D production and calcium can ‘hop on board’ as vitamin D is more easily absorbed into your bones than calcium is on its own.

Remember, health is a responsibility, not a privilege. Keeping active will help boost your bone density, so you can continue to enjoy your game for years to come. Make no bones about it. A healthy spine must have healthy bones!

  • Dr Barry Kluner is one of the original chiropractic pioneers in the region who specialises in family care, postural restoration and sporting injuries particularly related to weight-training and golf.