Fit After 40: Less Pain, More Gain

fit-after-40Tight lumbar? Sore knees? Overworked rotator cuff? At this point in our active lives, we’ve all got some nagging pang that holds us back from burning as much fat and calories as possible. For me, it was overdoing it in a kickboxing class that inflamed a hip joint. For you it might have been a benign-looking yoga posture. Regardless, there’s a lot you can do to prevent the pain before it starts, especially as you age.

Stay loose: “When you’re continually tight and not functioning at one hundred percent in one area, other looser parts get overworked in order to compensate,” said Lynn Millar, professor of physical therapy at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Mich. “The eventual results are pain and possible injury.”

Common tights spots are shoulders, hamstrings, lower back and hip flexors. According to an article published in the IDEA Fitness Journal, flexibility decreases up to 50 percent with age. In one study of 1,000 elderly folks, shoulder abduction decreased gradually, reaching about 25 percent compared to the younger set.

Pop pills: Even if you’re careful during your workouts, osteoarthritis is a common condition that can come with stress on the joints over time. Meds can lessen the pain around the joint and improve mobility.

Ibuprofen and naproxen are effective but take gingerly; regular use can lead to cardiovascular dysfunction and gastrointestinal bleeding. If you need relief on a daily basis, consider the supplements glucosamine and chondroitin as alternatives. Many people swear by them, however, newer studies have found they don’t relieve pain or stiffness.

Listen to your body: “Yes, exercise causes aches and as we age, they become a part of everyday life. But if a pain doesn’t go away with rest, or progressively gets worse, then you need to see your physician,” said Millar.

There are other factors to heed, also. “Dehydration and constantly sitting can make you more achy. And overdoing it’s another big one. If you’re not sure of your fitness level, it’s better to do less than you think you’re capable of to prevent problems.”