It is imperative that you do all you can to protect yourself from degeneration, illness and accidents that can rob you of many additional years of healthy and happy living. If the joints, muscles and nerves that make up your musculoskeletal system aren't kept functioning properly, you may be jeopardizing your overall health and well-being.
Living long and being vigorous and vital the whole time means maintaining overall physical and emotional wellness. It means functioning at as high a level as possible, with physical and mental functions diminished only moderately, if at all. Most older individuals are concerned about their diet and digestion – they worry about sleeping well, seeing and hearing adequately, looking good, controlling their weight, experiencing as little pain as possible, maintaining their mental acuity, not being depressed, and remaining active and independent. These are all, to varying degrees, reliant on a person's musculoskeletal health.
The World Health Organization suggests health is a state of complete physical, mental or social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Physical health includes such characteristics as body size and shape, sensory acuity, susceptibility to disease and disorders, body functioning, recuperative ability and the ability to perform certain tasks.
One aspect of physical health is the musculoskeletal system, which consists of 3 components; muscular strength, endurance and flexibility. Muscular strength (dynamic) is defined as the maximum force a muscle or muscle group can generate at a specific velocity. Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle or muscle group to perform repeated contractions against a load for an extended period of time. Flexibility has 2 components, dynamic or static, where dynamic flexibility is the opposition or resistance of a joint to motion, that is, the forces opposing movement rather than the range of movement itself. Static flexibility is the range of motion about a joint, typically measured as the degree of arc at the end of joint movement.
If strength, endurance and flexibility are not maintained, musculoskeletal fitness is then compromised which can significantly impact physical health and well-being. Many health benefits are associated with musculoskeletal fitness, such as reduced coronary risk factors, increased bone mineral density (reduced risk of osteoporosis), increased flexibility, improved glucose tolerance, and greater success in completion of activities of daily living.
With aging, the performance of daily tasks can become a challenge. Additionally, falls, bone fractures and the need for institutional care indicate a musculoskeletal weakness as we age.
The earlier in life an individual becomes physically active the greater the increase in positive health benefits; however, becoming physically active at any age will benefit overall health. Improved musculoskeletal fitness (for example, through resistance training combined with stretching) is associated with an enhanced health status. Thus, maintaining musculoskeletal fitness can increase overall quality of life.
Poor musculoskeletal health can lead to problems in the muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and joints, and in the associated tissue that allows free movement.
Stress fractures are small cracks or severe bruises within a bone and by definition indicate poor musculoskeletal health.
Musculoskeletal health status is based upon several factors, one of which includes fully functioning, healthy joints.
A loss of height can be as a result of the discs between the vertebrae in the spine compressing. An aging spine can also become more curved, and vertebrae can collapse (compression fracture) due to loss of bone density (osteoporosis). Loss of muscle in the torso can also contribute to stooped posture. Even the gradual flattening of the arches of the feet can make you slightly shorter. All of these factors are an indicator for poor musculoskeletal health.
Severe morning stiffness can be caused by a variety of factors such as sleeping in a bad position or in a cold/damp environment. Chronic morning stiffness is often caused by arthritis, which is a condition of poor musculoskeletal health.
A history of many broken bones can indicate problems such as Osteoporosis and Osteogenesis Imperfecta. These disorders directly impact the health of the bones and will therefore affect musculoskeletal health.
Herniated disks suggest not only that there are problems with the spine itself, but also that muscles which are served by the affected nerves tend to weaken.
Exercising within your tolerances and limitations will invariably produce musculoskeletal health improvement.
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