It can be legitimately surprising just how quickly we might start to experience a certain kind of pain that wasn’t there before. It might be in the knees, in the back, or you might even have a worrying episode of chest pain that goes away but is still stuck in your mind. Our bodies might start getting harder to take care of as we hit the big 3-0 but that doesn’t mean we can’t take care of them. Here are ways to make sure you’re looking after yourself even as you age into an achier person.
Make sure you stay limber
As we get older, our joints can start to lose their range of motion over the years. This can lead to joint pain in time. This isn’t something that necessarily has to happen, but a lot of us are living more sedentary lives that see us not using our joints and being as flexible as we should be. As such, our joints start to lose that range of motion due to underuse. If you’re putting together an exercise plan, then be sure to incorporate some flexibility-improving exercises, and if you spend a lot of time sitting on the couch or working at a desk, then be sure to stretch your body every hour. You should also make sure to start the day with a full routine of body stretches. It will help you stay limber for years.
You need to support yourself
Improving your flexibility alone isn’t enough, of course. As well as improving the range of motion on the joints, you need to support the muscles that support the joints, as well. Lower back pain in elderly people has a lot of contributing factors, but the diminishing power of the muscles that support the back is a big part of that. Without it, the joints deal with more pressure themselves, which in turn leads to inflammation and pain. If you’re starting a strength training program, you have to make sure you start slow and with low impact exercises. Ease yourself into it and start building muscle. Make sure you get enough protein and energy to sustain muscle growth as well. 80% of health is diet and only 20% is fitness as they say.
Your weight matters too
While it is true that a little too much emphasis goes on how you control your weight as part of a healthy lifestyle, there’s no denying it plays a significant role. When we are overweight, we are putting even more pressure on our joints, making us more susceptible to back pain and joint pain. The pressure that weight puts on our joints is exponential, too. It works out that an additional pound of weight is actually worth 4 extra pounds on the knees, for instance.
Keep it cool (or warm)
The above points are all going to help you avoid having to deal with physical aches and pains for the majority of your life. However, if you’re looking to start soothing the aches that you’re feeling right now, then it’s important to know the role that temperature can play in healing pain and stiffness. Both cold compresses and heat treatments can help, depending on the kind of pain you’re experiencing. For instance, the cold can reduce swelling, as well as inflammation that constricts blood vessels and causes pain. Hot water bottles, on the other hand, can expand the blood vessels, relaxing your muscles if you’re dealing with painful spasms, as well as improving your overall circulation. It might take some experimenting to find which you need for any given ache but it can be a huge help.
The mind matters, too
One important thing to know about anything related to your health is that your mind and body are more closely tied than we can ever really understand. For instance, our mental health can influence our experience of pain. As such, the endorphins that we release when working out can actually dull the sensation of pain. While this doesn’t mean you should work out as hard as possible, leading to more potential of injury in the long run, it does mean that regular exercise is important to our mental health, which is important to how we experience pain. Similarly, exercise can also better regulate our production of cortisol, the stress hormone. When we produce more cortisol than we should, our body tenses up, which can only put more physical stress on our joints, too.
Nutrition is vital
As mentioned, diet is 80% of all healthy living. As such, if we are deficient in the minerals and iron that we need, then we can experience symptoms that might seem like a natural part of aging but are anything but. Iron deficiencies can, for instance, result in swollen legs that worsen inflammation issues. Potassium is another vital mineral and if we are deficient we can experience what is called restless leg syndrome. When we experience restless leg syndrome, our legs might simply ache, but they can even go completely numb for brief periods of time. Managing those deficiencies is key.
Know when to get checked
It’s important not to accept the aches and pains we experience over time as a natural part of life. Sometimes, they are a mark of something serious. As mentioned, nutritional deficiencies are always a risk. Arthritis is another major one, as well. If you have swelling or pained joints for more than three days, you should get checked for the condition as soon as possible. Similarly, if you experience any chest pain or tightness, even if it goes away and seemingly never comes back, you should get it checked out. You might have had a bout of angina, which can increase your risk of heart disease and heart attacks in the long run. Chest symptoms should never be ignored, not even once.
If you take care of yourself now, you are going to thank yourself for it in the long-run. However, it’s important to also keep an eye on aches and pains that might not be due to natural causes and to get help when necessary.