Tag Archive for: injuries

tight hips

Two Reasons People Avoid Exercise Over Age 50

Should you truly “avoid exercise” once you’re over 50?

Over the course of my career, I’ve worked with many folks over the age of 50 who are enjoying the same activities they did in their 40’s – including surfing, playing tennis, hockey, running, hiking, etc. – so the short answer is “No”. None of these activities are considered “easy on the joints” – and yes, you might have to make some modifications to continue enjoying them – but you certainly don’t have to avoid exercise if you don’t want to.

So why is it that some folks see age as just a number, whereas others see age as a time to slow down and stop doing certain things? 

Once you’re over 50, the two most common reasons I see people avoiding activities they love is because

1) they fear pain could be causing damage to their body and

2) they were simply told to by a medical professional. 

  1. Fear that pain could be causing damage 

When it comes to musculoskeletal pain, the pain itself is typically not the biggest concern for most. People are willing and able to tolerate a certain amount of pain at the expense of doing what they truly love. We do it all the time in our 20’s or 30’s. But as we age, fear starts to set in when we’re in pain. We naturally become more cautious with activity and begin to question what the pain could be doing to our bodies. Plus, as you get older, it becomes harder to recover from injuries, leading some to rationalize for themselves that it’s better to just avoid certain activities altogether because it’s “safer” than getting injured.

So does pain mean we’re doing damage? Not necessarily. Pain is simply a signal from your brain that it wants you to pay attention to something. You shouldn’t ignore it, but you don’t have to fear it either. Oftentimes, pain just means you might have to adjust or modify something. Once you understand what your pain is telling you – you can take appropriate action. This is one of the secrets to being able to continue your favorite activities well beyond your 50’s. Learn how to “talk” to your pain.

  2. A medical professional told you to avoid exercise 

When we’re younger, we’re more likely to address pain with a wait-and-see approach. But as we age, pain becomes a bigger concern and we’re more likely to seek professional medical help sooner. While this would seem prudent, the problem is there are a lot of well-meaning medical professionals out there who aren’t always up to date with the latest research. The consequence? Mixed messages and “old school” advice for many of their patients. 

For example, many doctors have come to rely on images (X-rays and MRI’s) to base their diagnosis of musculoskeletal pain and subsequent treatment plan/recommendations. If your X-ray shows “bone on bone” arthritis, they start talking about joint replacements – and/or tell you to stop doing any activity that could “damage” your joint further. But the current research disputes this line of thinking, and says 70-80% of all musculoskeletal problems (even when you’re over 50) can be solved without a procedure or surgery. How your pain behaves is what matters most. Not your age, arthritis, or images.

Here’s a real life case study that illustrates what I’m talking about.

Not too long ago, I met a 55-year-old woman (we’ll call her Kate). She was having knee pain that interfered with her hiking and running. She was told by her orthopedic surgeon that knee replacement was her only option. This was because of the “bone-on-bone” in her knee. Kate questioned the knee replacement and asked if she could wait. Her doctor’s response was to scale back on activity and stop running and hiking altogether. But just because Kate’s X-ray showed osteoarthritis in her knee, it doesn’t mean it’s the cause of her knee pain. Research tells us this. It’s entirely possible that Kate’s knee pain is due to something other than her “bone on bone” arthritis.

Did she really need surgery? And did she really need to stop running and hiking?  If she underwent a knee replacement without being sure if arthritis is truly the main cause of her knee pain, she not only risks unnecessary surgery, but would also be set back several months for recovery.

First, inactivity is one of the worst things you can do for arthritis.

People who stay active with weight-bearing activities are shown to have less arthritis than those who avoid doing things that compress their joints. Second, during Kate’s movement exam, we were able to quickly turn her knee pain “off” and then “on” again. That means her knee pain could not be solely due to the arthritis in her knee – because you can’t reverse “bone on bone” arthritis with movement and certainly not that quickly.

You can, however, successfully address a mechanical joint problem with movement – which is exactly what was happening. Mechanical problems in your spine or joints won’t show up on X-ray. So you don’t want to rely on images alone to make decisions about your pain – and certainly don’t rely on images alone to decide if you should have surgery or not. 

If you’re getting older, know that age related changes like arthritis are normal and nothing to be afraid of. Pain is also normal. It’s an important signal that alerts us to take action. It doesn’t always equal damage. Be sure to educate yourself about these topics and ask more questions if you’re told to stop an activity “just because”, or that surgery is your only option because of an image.

Do you avoid exercise because of back, knee, hip, shoulder, or ankle pain?

 Let us help you get back to it! Request a FREE Discovery Call with my team. It’s a no obligation call to figure out 1) if we can help you and 2) are you a good fit for what we do.

Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and writes for Seacoast Media Group. To request a free copy of her Knee Pain Free Report CLICK HERE  or to get in touch email her at [email protected] .

Back Pain

Tips to Avoid Injury When You’re Over 50

Most of our clients are aged 50 or above, and staying as active as possible while they age is a big priority for them. As we get older, our bodies do need more care and maintenance to not only age well but avoid injury. 

Here are some of my top tips I like to give clients to help them stay active and mobile, avoid injuries, and continue doing everything they love.

1. Keep Moving

You’ll often hear me say: “You don’t get stiff because you get old, you get old because you get stiff.” If you want to stay healthy and mobile, you need to keep moving. One of the biggest concerns I hear from folks aged 50+ is whether they should start modifying what they do because of arthritis. Remember, arthritis is normal. It happens to everyone as they age, and it’s rarely a reason to stop doing your favorite activities. In fact, research has shown that activities like running, when done consistently and with proper form, can prevent knee arthritis! The effects of arthritis worsen when you don’t move, which is when I typically see people having problems. Common “injuries” like meniscal tears and bulging discs are more likely to occur in arthritic joints. But the more active you stay, the less likely you are to be impacted by ailments such as this — and the better your joints will feel.

2. Maintain a Healthy Diet

Both osteoporosis and heart health become bigger concerns as we age, and what you eat can have a direct and positive influence. With osteoporosis, your risk of injury, especially from a fall, becomes much greater. Greens like kale, spinach, and arugula are awesome for your bones, along with citrus fruits, fish, and nuts. These foods help your bones stay strong and durable. According to Health magazine, “The risk of a heart attack climbs for men after age 45 and for women after age 55.” As you enter middle-age, increasing the presence of foods like unsalted nuts, unprocessed oatmeal, raisins, blueberries, and even dark chocolate (over 70% cacao) can help keep your heart healthy. Before making any drastic changes to your diet, especially if you’ve got comorbidities such as diabetes or kidney disease, you’ll want to check with your doctor or dietician. But otherwise, paying attention to your diet can have a big impact on how healthy you keep your heart and bones.

3. Work on your Balance

Balance is one of the first things to go as a person gets older, and it’s one of the most crucial factors in helping you prevent falls and avoid injury. Slips and falls due to poor balance can lead to broken bones and fractures, which become more common and harder to recover from as you age. But if you’re intentional about improving your balance when you exercise, it’s not too late to improve it. While there are many great balance exercises you can do at home, I always recommend incorporating balance strategies with movement and activity. Because rarely do we fall when just standing still. Try standing on one leg when you brush your teeth, place one foot up on a stool when washing dishes, walk around on your toes and heels during commercials. These are really easy strategies to incorporate into your daily living. And of course, activities like walking regularly, Tai Chi, Yoga, and our favorite — Pilates — are also great to promote good balance.

4. Strengthen your core

Having a strong core is beneficial at any age, but especially as you get older. Strong abs, hips and buttocks (all part of your core) help you to sit and stand more upright, prevent back and neck pain, and will help you feel stronger and more confident in just about everything that you do. In our office, our favorite core-strengthening activity is Pilates. We especially love it for folks aged 50+ because it’s easy on your joints and it helps to promote flexibility at the same time. But what I love most about Pilates is that it teaches you how to strengthen your core properly and safely, two important things at any age, not just when you’re over 50. When you know how to properly engage and use your core, you start to incorporate it more into other exercises. Suddenly walking, running, Yoga, and lifting weights all become that much more effective, and you’re far less likely to get injured doing them.

5. Educate Yourself

Knowledge is power, and lack of it, is one of the biggest reasons I see people decreasing their activity levels when there is no reason to. People think that things like arthritis, bulging discs, or a torn meniscus are reasons to decrease or cease certain activities. But that’s not necessarily true! Most of the things I just mentioned are normal occurrences as we age, and having them show up on an x-ray or MRI is not a reason to change something you’ve been successfully doing for years. Plus, regular movement and exercise actually helps these problems. If you’ve got pain, that’s a different story. Talk to an expert who can help you figure out what’s going on, so that you can quickly get back to your activities and not make your pain worse. Whatever you do, try to avoid Dr. Google. It can send you down a rabbit hole and not all the advice you read will apply directly to you.