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.
The sudden pain you’ve experienced in the back of your heel during or after your morning run, workout, or squat has a name… Achilles Tendonitis. And though it’s a mouthful to pronounce, its symptoms and aftermath are more common. In this post, we look at the effects and causes of this uncomfortable, oftentimes painful affliction, and we give you the tools to overcome its debilitating effects on your exercise routine and lifestyle.
Achilles Tendonitis is characterized by a sharp, unexpected pain in the back of the heel, the occurrence of which is caused by inflammation is the tendon it’s named after. Because inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or disease, the pain you feel in your heel may therefore be accompanied by swelling, irritation, and a lack of mobility.
Fear not, though! While it is certainly painful and irritating at the best of times, Achilles Tendonitis can be treated. To do that effectively, however, it is important to take a look at some of its causes, that is, some of the reasons you may have been in the line of fire:
1.Too Much High Intensity Exercise
While we all like doing a good HIIT workout as much as the next person, overdoing the squats, lunges, and star-jumps may be directly affecting your heel-health. By denying your body the chance to recover, you may actually be doing a lot more damage than good. Placing unnecessary and unexpected stress on your joints, muscles, and tendons will eventually lead to damage, and thus, pain. A good way to judge whether you’re pushing things a bit too far is by taking a honest look at your expectations, goals, and timeline. Evaluate the weight limit you’re currently lifting and adjust it accordingly. It’s far better to play the long-game than risk injury in the short-term. Similarly, if you’re a runner, alter the distance you’re running per day, making sure to give yourself enough recovery time in the process. Your body, and especially your heels, will thank you later.
An unvaried exercise routine may result in the development of Achilles Tendonitis, as the constant repetition of certain movements may eventually effect the heel. Movements causing pain or irritation should be kept to a minimum and, if possible, avoided altogether. If you are a runner, for example, make sure to include some weight training or swimming into your routine and, if you’re a weight-lifter, focus on activities targeting cardio, too. Doing this therefore ensures that no single muscle or joint is exposed to all the stress of your workout… especially not the heel. In addition, make sure your routine allows the recovery of all areas in the body, and is, as such, varied in movement and intensity.
It’s no secret that being immobile and stiff is detrimental to your overall health. When it comes to your heels, though, the flexibility and movement in your calf muscle is absolutely vital. If this muscle is tight, stiff, and inflexible, the stress placed on your heel during exercises such as weight lifting, squats, or running, can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Achilles Tendonitis is more often than not as a direct result of short, tight calf muscles. Be sure to stretch these muscles before, during, and after your workouts to avoid being caught-out later on. Be advised, also, that jumping into stressful, high-intensity, unfamiliar workouts adds extra stress to this particular area: hence the increased need to stretch it and warm it up beforehand.
4.Stretches: what stretches?
Not stretching before a workout is like entering a gun-fight armed with a wooden spoon. The likelihood of injury increases exponentially if your muscles are stiff and tight. And, believe it or not, the health of your heel is not just dependent on the mobility of your calf muscles! Your body is like a well-oiled machine, each muscle connected to the next, and each joint primed to facilitate the movement of the others. Therefore, it is exceptionally important to stretch all your muscles before a workout – if one is tight, cold, or isn’t expecting movement, you may damage it, thereby intensifying pressure in one area of your body, thus leading to overcompensation and, ultimately, to stress in your heel and foot.
If you’re reading this and thinking… I now know what caused it, but how can I get rid of this pain, don’t worry: you can. By far the best, most effective, and safest way of dealing with your Achilles Tendonitis is by visiting a qualified, professional physical therapist. Physical therapy is unlike all other forms of treatment in that it treats the root cause of your problem, thus offering you a permanent solution. Far from using painkillers or quick fixes, a hands-on physical therapist will give you the answers you seek and the tools you need to overcome your pain once and for all. In addition, physical therapy doesn’t just focus on short term pain-relief: physical therapists will provide you with targeted, tailor-made exercises suited to your particular condition so that you can maintain your newfound pain-free life. Remember, true healing comes from a deeper understanding of the issue and thus a comprehensive plan of treatment; physical therapy gives you all that and more.
If you’re tired of dealing with ongoing Achilles Tendonitis, have been blindsided by its sudden onset, or just want to steer clear of its clutches, we invite you to contact us today for a chat. We know that pain can derail your exercise routine, affect your social life, and cause you to feel overwhelmed. Because of that, we want to help. Contact us today for more information on how exactly we can do that. Until then, here’s to your heel health!
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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."