Recently, I have been approached by a few people regarding some increasingly annoying aches and pains coming from one side of their bodies – ex: right hip – left shoulder, etc… – and after having assessed their muscle strength and the range of motion of their joints, we quickly realized a significant level of muscle imbalances and flexibility from one or more of their muscle groups.
These imbalances will often cause a myriad of other problems: poor posture, painful/achy joints, decreased balance and stability, hernias and herniated disk …
Many of these imbalances happen as the body ages. As the years go by, some physical and lifestyle changes are the cause of your body going out of proper alignment:
– Muscle mass loss; generally, people lose about 1% of their lean muscle mass per year after age 40.
– Bone density loss; Post menopause, women lose bone density at an average rate of 2 to 3% per year while men of same age range are losing 0.4% yearly
– Ligaments connecting bones and joints lose elasticity
– Overall activity usually decreases as people age. Therefore the muscles which are used on a regular basis remain strong while other weaken.
The overall result is that your bone structure loses the correct alignment you had when you were younger which puts you at risk of muscle and/or joint pain and disorder.
The good news is that a regular and well-performed exercise regime will keep your muscles strong and flexible which, in turn, will allow you to maintain proper alignment.
As mentioned earlier, the muscles which are not used regularly weaken with age.
– I have found that the “core muscles” tend to be under used and therefore lose strength and endurance. (The major muscles of the core reside in the area of the belly and the mid and lower back and peripherally include the hips, the shoulders and the neck.) Regular functional core exercises will help keep your core muscles activated and allow you to maintain good erect posture.
– Balance and stability is also often an issue with the aging population**. Muscle imbalance from one side of the body is often the cause of this decrease in stability. Unilateral exercises: standing on 1 foot – lunges, single leg squats… are all beneficial exercises which will help strengthen the weaker side of your body.
Many cases of chronic pain can be traced back to faulty posture/alignment. Early prevention and cure of these issues will help you maintain a better posture, stand taller and be able to be active for many more years ahead!
Train Smarter – Not Harder!
** Falls account for more than half of all injuries among Canadians 65 years and over. One third of community-dwelling Canadian seniors experience one fall each year and half of those will fall more than once.