Staying active helps keep aches and pains away
It’s common to feel more aches, pains and stiffness in our body as we reach our 40s and 50s.
“It’s a fact of life that aches and stiffness increase with the body’s natural aging process,” says Patti Paradis, physical therapist with Legacy Mount Hood Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Services. While we can’t stop the clock, we can control our habits and lifestyle choices that help us enjoy an active life in middle age and beyond.
Stiffness tends to increase after age 40 because the water content in our body’s muscles and connective tissues decreases. “Soreness and recovery times also lengthen from intensive or prolonged activities like gardening, running or hiking,” said Paradis.
Our bodies are also a history book of strains, sprains and injuries. “Over time, the body’s joints that have been stressed by injury or repetitive activity can have degenerative changes.”
Paradis recommends stretching and warming up muscles before athletic or fitness activities and cross train to lessen the risk of strain or injury. “I tell my clients who do intense activities like running to switch up their routines and include low-impact activities like walking, yoga and swimming to avoid repetitive strain to muscles and joints.”
Fitness habits and doing activities we like are important elements in maintaining mobility and reducing pain and risk of injuries as we age. “Create an enjoyable routine that includes stretching, weight training and aerobic exercise to keep the aches and pains away or at least lessen their impact,” says Paradis.
Morning is often when we most notice joint and muscle stiffness. Stiffness can be associated with an inflammatory process that comes with age and can be worsened by inactivity or sleeping positions. Stiffness can be treated with a routine of stretching exercises, increased movement, and trying different sleeping postures. Muscle stiffness can respond to use of therapeutic heat. Over the counter anti-inflammatory medication can be helpful for stiffness. It’s important to talk with your medical provider about pain medication options, especially if you take other medications.
The food we eat impacts our body’s health and can affect aches and pains associated with aging. “We have many choices about what we eat and how we move that can have a dramatic improvement on age-related pain,” said Paradis. “Consider reducing caffeine and sugar consumption because these foods can increase water retention and promote joint inflammation,” said Paradis. “Maintaining a healthy weight and recommended body mass index are important for joint health.”
A physical therapy assessment can help improve mobility and strength, shift movement patterns toward better normal, and provide a custom workout program for maintaining strength, flexibility and balance. Contact Legacy Mount Hood Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Services at 503-674-1123 to schedule a physical therapy consultation.
For media-related questions, contact Julie Reed.