WHY Back Pain Isn't "NORMAL" Even if You're Getting Older
Back pain: very few people go through life without feeling its debilitating effects. From dull aches to sharp, stabbing sensations, back pain can afflict many of us in various ways. For a some people, back pain is a prolonged struggle that can strike at any moment, the intensity and heartache of which seems to increase over time if left untreated. For others, however, back pain seems to appear later on in life, and the predominant assumption is that it is therefore age related. Here’s the thing, though: it isn’t necessarily true. Yes, that’s right. Back pain – especially when you’re older – actually has very little to do with your age and a lot more to do with your lifestyle. In this post we look at why we often mistake middle-age back pain for something “normal” or “natural”, and we discuss some of the ways in which you can overcome the pain and get back to the active, mobile lifestyle you deserve.
The biggest issue with back pain in later years is that, well, it’s accompanied by general acceptance. Most people who experience back pain when they’re older just accept it and try to work around it, so to speak. And while we’re not denying that back pain may come with age, we are saying that the pain is NOT a product of age, rather that it is a result of an aging mindset or imbalanced lifestyle.
Let’s think about this for a moment: it is true that, as we age, our bodies require a little more maintenance. We no longer have the metabolisms of 18 year olds, and we can’t really keep up on the soccer field. Yet, that doesn’t mean we have to give up on trying to be active or healthy. The problem with middle-age back pain is not that it is a natural response to aging, but that we allow it to be defined by age. If we maintained healthy lifestyles, kept active, and enjoyed a healthful diet, our age would not determine the health of our backs – our lifestyles would. In other words, age is just a number, but you really, truly are what you do. Here are some of the reasons you might incorrectly assume that your back is sore simply because of your age:
Breaking Good Exercise Habits
When you were younger you had the motivation and will to run the extra proverbial mile. Getting up at 6am to go to the gym wasn’t a chore, and the pay-off at the end of the day was worth the endurance it took to stay slim and healthy. However, as you aged, you had to work a little harder, struggled a little more to wake up early, and found that juggling a job, kids, pets, and a social life left little in the way of time for exercise. And the result? You aged. Yes, that’s right. As controversial as that may seem, the minute you let yourself break all the good habits you had when you were young, you started to age. And, sadly, the consequences of that meant – yeah, you guessed it – back pain. Here’s the thing: the habits you forge define who you are and how you feel. If you incorporated movement, exercise, cardio, and stretching into your life, right now, you’d jumpstart your journey to health by strengthening the muscles in your back. You’ll feel and look younger! Do some yoga, Pilates, or Tai Chi – whatever you choose, stretch and move those muscles! If you want something a little less adventurous, why not start by taking a daily walk, getting up a couple of minutes earlier to hit the yoga mat, or joining a spinning class in your local gym? It’s amazing what a mind-shift can do you for your body.
Let’s face it, when we’re young we really don’t worry too much about the position in which we sit, how we stand, or how evenly we distribute our body weight. The only problem with this is that our mistakes eventually catch up to us. Poor posture is one of the leading causes for back pain experienced in middle age – not only does a lack of mindful joint and muscle positioning mean that you place stress on the spine, but it also means that you constantly repeat the same detrimental stances and gait. You end up entrenching the pain by destabilizing your body’s balance. Thus it comes as no surprise that the battle against back pain is the battle against poor posture. And, of course, poor posture makes you feel older: you’re bent downward and you feel less inclined to move. So, in a bid to rid yourself of discomfort, start by correcting your posture and practicing more mindful ways of positioning the spine during sleep and the hours spent at your desk. Your back will thank you.
Weight Gain Woes
Here’s the rub, right? Weight gain is perhaps the most quintessential middle-age battle; we gain weight as we age and, unfortunately, the weight carries a lot more than a few extra pounds. Gaining weight often means excess stress not only on your organs, but on your joints and muscles, too. Your back actually incurs a dramatic increase in pressure as you gain weight, the result of which can often lead to disc damage or spinal injuries. Controlling your weight is absolutely vital is maintain a healthy back. So, why not opt for a cooking course to learn a few new recipe’s, or take your partner up on that new dish he or she has been dying to make. Increasing the amount of vegetables, berries, fruit, healthy oils and fats, as well as beans and legumes in your diet will help you maintain a healthy weight.
Let’s be frank: back pain can rob you of your happiness and joy. We also realize that living with back pain is something that can feel too big to tackle on your own. And that is why we know that the tips above, no matter how badly you want to start doing them, may seem daunting to begin with. What can be done, then? Feeling younger is as much about the changes you choose to make as the mind-shift you need to implement. Make a change, right now – get the help you need.
For the safest, easiest, most effective way of tackling your back pain, contact a professional, hands-on physical therapist. Physical therapy offers you the opportunity to regain your joy and for you to feel younger and happy again. With a physical therapist, you’ll receive hands-on, caring treatment aimed at treating the root cause of the problem, thereby giving you a permanent solution to the daily pain you’re suffering. And not only that, physical therapy gives you tailor-made, targeted exercises and stretches for you to do at home, thereby equipping you with the tools you need to maintain a pain-free life. No painkillers, no surgery, and no temporary fixes: physical therapy is the best way to overcome your back pain, right now.
Age is just a number, and back pain does not have to be a product of your age. You can overcome your back pain and get back to the life you deserve. For more information about how we can help you do just that, contact one of our professional physical therapists, right now. We’re here to help: don’t let back-pain steal even one more moment of your life.
John Salva, PT
"We help people in pain get back to the things they want without relying on surgery or painkillers, even if past treatments have failed."