“Home, home again. I like to be here when I can and when I come home cold and tired, it’s good to warm my bones beside the fire.” – Pink Floyd
It is a simple yet inescapable fact that we are all getting older. And with this aging process, there are inevitable changes that take place in our bodies.
For men, many find that it is more difficult to see changes in muscle bulk when working out after, say, the age of 50. And for some, testosterone levels decrease though some research puts the blame on lifestyle, not aging per se.
Women, too, begin to notice changes in their bodies. For example, the amount of fat you carry increases as you age, while muscle mass, lean tissue, and bone mineral density decrease.
And, for many men and women, the propensity for pain and injury from exercise and workouts increases with age.
The Reality of Physical Aging and Fitness: Barrier or Challenge?
Although this condition is more readily experienced by some adults than others, it is, as we said, a simple fact of life.
For example, one source points out that,
“As you age it’s possible to notice a couple of significant changes: Tendons and ligaments lose some of their elasticity. This can lead to reduced range of motion in the joints, making these areas more prone to injuries. And unfortunately, older bodies tend to take a bit longer to recover from injuries.”
And an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Vonda Wright, explains it in a bit more detail,
“For aging athletes and adult onset exercisers, the main problems reported are acute muscle strains and chronic tendonitis. The junction between the tendon and the muscle is especially vulnerable since the structure of the muscle is less “stretchy” in this area than in the middle of the muscle. In addition, when muscles are fatigued, they lose their ability to absorb energy and are less coordinated. This makes them susceptible to injury during so-called eccentric movement.”
(“Eccentric movement” is when a muscle that is contracting as it is lengthening.)
Not to put too fine a point on this progression, a report from the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine stated that,
“Illness and aging both cause many structural and functional alterations in the human body, rendering elderly people liable to overloading of the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems… The safety margin of an exercise dose tends to decline with aging. Exertional injuries are common among the elderly, and are connected mostly with degenerative aging processes.”
So, while these issues cause many older adults to “dial back” their physical activity, others refuse to accept them.
A Coming Wave of Age-Related Pain Issues
Why all of this is important is that the largest generational group in American history, the so-called Baby Boomers, are all entering their 60s and beyond over the next couple of years. In fact, there are an estimated 71.6 million adults today aged between 58 and 73.
And many of them are suffering from several types of muscle, soft tissue, and joint pain often a result of physical exertion. But they’re not alone.
Following close behind the Baby Boomers are the nation’s now largest living adult generation, the Millennials. According to population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, Millennials, who are defined as ages 23 to 38, numbered 72.1 million as of mid-2019.
However, there are also the adults of Generation X who are estimated to number 65.2 million people ages 39 to 54. And these aging adults are expected to outnumber Baby Boomers by 2028.
All of these statistics simply illustrate the fact that today there are almost 144,000,000 adults in the United States between the ages of 34 and 64. And they are all the most prone to exercise-related muscle strains and related injury.
In other words, pain from working out.
On the positive side, there is good news.
The same National Library of Medicine quoted earlier also noted that,
“The best ‘treatment’ for sports-related injuries is prevention. Good agility, technical skills, and cardiovascular and musculoskeletal fitness are important in injury prevention among the elderly. Appropriate training programmes, the use of safe and familiar equipment, careful warming up and cooling down, multiphasic training… and muscle strength are essential aspects of injury prevention.”
In other words, avoiding too much, too soon, too quickly can go a long way to avoiding and preventing exertion-related injury and pain. In addition, learning and practicing proper form and technique is essential, as well.
Body Awareness: Coming to Terms with Our Limitations – and Potential
This is a topic that we’ve touched on before, but it bears repeating.
As one clinic describes it,
“Body awareness (proprioception) is the ability to recognize the orientation of your body in a space. Athletes with good body awareness are able to perform tasks including: Dribbling without looking. Keeping their feet inbounds. Tracking a ball in the air.”
And the magazine Healthline says that body awareness is how conscious and connected you are to your own body. It’s also known as kinesthesia, or the awareness of the position and movement of body parts in relation to muscles and joints.
While these are all accurate, being conscious of your body also entails “listening” to what your body is telling you when you exercise, workout, or otherwise engage in some form of physical exertion.
This may seem a bit “out there” for some people but listening to your body during physical activity can be learned by even the most non-body-conscious individuals. Simply tuning in to your feelings consistently is one of the most effective ways to learn to listen to your body during exercise.
And if you become injured and begin to suffer from recurring or chronic pain, there is a pain and performance solution available to you.
Being Healthy, Fit, and Pain-Free with Pain and Performance Solutions
The good news is that no matter your age, you can not only recover from your pain but can become pain-free.
And the first step towards making that happen is making an appointment with Pain and Performance Solutions and let us get to know you and your pain issues.
During your initial appointment, we’ll work with you to learn about your present discomfort as well as any history of pain. After a full examination, we will then be able to determine the best type of treatment needed to help you on your road to recovery.
Chronic or recurring pain relief through the use of proven therapies such as Active Release Techniques® and Proprioceptive – Deep Tendon Reflex® can only begin once we understand where your pain started.
Getting your body to work properly and healthy is the only way to achieve total recovery and your trust in us and your openness is key. So, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and will answer any questions that you may have.