Why it is Crucial to Stay Mobile and Flexible as You Age
There is no shortage of articles, blog posts and video resources concerned with telling you how to age gracefully and avoid harsh-looking lines and wrinkles. But one area that often gets overlooked, is the importance of staying mobile and flexible as you age. This can be achieved through mobility training and other forms of treatment.
In this article, we’ll see why a lack of natural movement may be responsible for premature aging in many people.
How it Happens
The simple truth is that most of us will spend a large part of our lives practically motionless. If you’re like most people, then you will probably sit at a computer from the hours of 8-5pm (or significantly longer) and you’ll then get home from work only to sit on the couch. You probably sit during your commute too.
Now, not only does this lead to weight gain, depression, diabetes and more illnesses, but it can actually take years off of your life.
And what’s more, sitting will result in muscular imbalances in your body. This happens as muscles in the backs of the legs shorten and become tight, while those at the top become elongated and weak. The same happens to your pectoral muscles as you spend all day reaching forward toward your keyboard and to your neck if you sit in a hunched over position.
This then results in a range of serious problems. When a single muscle becomes too tight or too weak like this, it results in imbalances that change your entire posture. You might develop an anterior pelvic tilt, knee pain or other issues.
So, what happens next? Simple: you stop using that joint as you should and begin to compensate for the movement. No surprise, this then leads to more awkwardness and more pain. Eventually, you may end up hunched over and crippled and put all this down to ‘old age’.
Not only that, but this prevents you from going out and meeting new people. It prevents you from engaging in exercise, or learning new subjects. And in turn, that will cause your brain to atrophy too. The brain needs learning, it needs social stimulus and it needs movement in order to stay plastic, youthful and happy.
Imbalances, pain and injury can be the results of lack of movement.
How to Prevent it
To prevent this happening, you need to keep moving. Keep taking on new challenges and keep interacting with people. Avoid sitting for long stretches. Invest in a standing desk perhaps. Start a class such as yoga or Zumba that will put movement front and center. In fact, there are many fitness classes that consider ‘functional training’ an important part of their curriculum. Seek those out for better health now and well into your older age!
What about if there is pain being experienced in your joints, such as your knees.
How can you manage knee pain?
Knee pain can be an incredibly upsetting and distressing form of chronic pain. We are completely reliant on our knees for almost everything we do, as they are the ‘hinges’ that allows us to walk and as they are constantly forced to bear the entire weight of our bodies. While a bad wrist might be very painful, this is something that you at least won’t have to use all the time, but your knee you will have to endure every time you stand up or walk.
And of course, like many things, this is a common issue that will often crop up as we get older. So what do you do?
One option is to get a knee replacement. This will replace your knee joint with a synthetic device that has been crafted for you. However, it is of course better to avoid getting a knee replacement unless it is entirely necessary. Many people will prefer to put off this option for as long as possible by using various techniques.
And there are many ways you can manage knee pain and help to limit it. Here we will look at a few options.
Knee Pain: Know Your Options
Exercise: Your physiotherapist or chiropractor can advise of certain exercises that can be highly useful to allow you to improve mobility and ease pain. At the same time, in some cases strengthening the muscles and ligaments around the knee joint can also reduce the discomfort.
Analgesics (Pain Killers): Pain killers are highly useful for any chronic pain. Blood thinning pain killers such as Aspirin or Ibuprofen may also be particularly useful, as these can help to reduce swelling and the discomfort and damage that this can cause.
Orthotics: These are particular inserts for your shoes which can help to alter your stance slightly and take the pressure off of your knees as a result. Depending on the nature of your knee pain these can be quite effective in helping to reduce it.
Supplements and Diet: Your diet can have a big impact on the health of your knees. For instance, certain amino acids and minerals can help you to actually strengthen and repair the tissue that surrounds and constitutes your knee. Also, essential fatty acids may help to lubricate the joints.
Support: There are several supports you can get for your knee that will help you to avoid discomfort and further injury. A tube grip around the joint on its own for instance can be enough to lend you basic support, or you might benefit from a more specific form of support such as a patella strap.
Rest: Resting a bad knee is very important. The less you use it the more you can slow down the deterioration of bone and cartilage. Generally avoid unnecessary exertion, and use a walking stick if necessary to take the weight off your knee when you do use it.