Build Your Body to Keep Up (Aches & Pains DO NOT Have to Come With Age)
By the time we reach our thirties and beyond our lives have undergone a great deal of change, often we may be on our second career, we’re starting a family, whatever it is it’s safe to say life has really changed.
For most of us through our mid twenties to our mid sixties much of our time is spent on our “working” life. Unfortunately our bodies care little about the work we must do to support ourselves, much the same way your car doesn’t much care about the rising gas prices.
If you don’t put gas in the car; it’s not going to run. If you don’t work it’s going to be tough to pay the mortgage and buy groceries. And if you don’t make a regular and continued effort to give your body what it needs it’s also likely to ache, hurt, wear out, break down, or even die.
Sounds harsh but it is the simple truth, yet here we have a society where more are considered “obese” than not.
Disease is continually on the rise, and this year’s COVID-19 pandemic has elevated the importance of maintaining superb body function to critical importance.
Your body is the most perfect thing on this planet, and your most valuable possession; yet our society seems to have thrown away the “basic maintenance” manual.
Food is not the enemy no more than gas is bad for your car. You shouldn’t be afraid to eat often, what you should be afraid of is the ingredient list.
Forget whether the ingredients are good or bad, instead just worry about the length, the longer the list the less likely you should be eating it.
Exercise is critical.
Exercise is not housework, exercise is not chasing the kids, exercise is not running around at work (although all these things sometimes feel like it.)
In addition to movement exercise is about purpose and focused effort. It’s about elevating heart rate and keeping it that way at a sustained rate for sustained period of time. This could be walking, running, yoga or anything in between. Inversely exercise is also about using resistance through a repeat path of movement for a sustained period of time, providing overlapping and different benefit than walking, running, etc.
The point is we hurt; gain weight, or breakdown because we place more stress and strain on our bodies without ensuring it meets the necessary specifications. We work longer hours, we’re eating poorer quality food, as careers have taken over we don’t play sports or exercise as regularly as we used to, when we do exercise it’s going through the motions without goal or purpose.
Worse still our society revolves around often repeat activity. You do the same thing at work each day. You sit in the same position for long hours, doing the same motions over and over again.
Gravity is constantly pulling us down, weighing us down, and in a seated position as an example, deteriorating our posture. Staring at screens we we become hunched, or constantly flexed hips become shortened which in turn lengthens our erector spinae (low back) and weakens our core.
Bad backs DO come with age, but that’s only because our age is simply an odometer of hours we’ve spent in these repeat positions.
Our world isn’t slowing down, my advice is build your body to keep up!
You don’t have to be an fitness expert (although the advice of a personal trainer can be an investment well made) on the most basic level we simply need to evaluate the positions we spend the most time in, and the movements we repeat the most and work to incorporate exercise that is the opposite.
Here’s some examples.
If you work as I do, seated at a desk, in front of a computer for long periods, here’s some exercise tips to balance out that time. These tips are many of the same things I spent years teaching thousands of clients throughout my personal training career.
- Bent Knee Deadlifts - I think this is a core exercise everyone should do, a few sets of 10 will go along ways with any kind of resistance. It utilizes such a big motion chain, all centered around solid contraction and stabilization of the spine to support the load. Great for a strong and stable body, especially great for the day to day desk jockey. (This guy has a great video showing proper form: https://youtu.be/Ipi8_vz8_z0)
- Choke Yourself (Massage your SCMs) - Just kidding, but if you take your thumb and index finger and pinch on either side of your jugular you should find a thick cord of muscle called your Sternocleidomastoid. It often gets shortened from instantly concentrating on a screen, simply pinching it and massaging it, although uncomfortable, is a great way to prevent headaches from deteriorating posture. Additionally balance this action by interlocking your fingers behind your head and pressing your head into your hands for a count of 10-20. This fires an isometric contraction of posterior scalenes and traps which will further save your neck from postural degradation at your desk. (If you CLICK HERE the first image will make it easy to know what and where the SCMs are)
- Crunch Time! - Your core is really key to well being, if you’re doing the deadlifts a great addition to balance the core function is good old lying crunches on the floor or a swiss ball for extra range of motion. We used to have a saying, 50 or puke :) but just do as many as you can. (Here's a basic video from Livestrong on proper crunch form: https://youtu.be/Xyd_fa5zoEU)
- Pretend You’re Captain Morgan - Do the captain don’t drink the Captain. :) Contracted hips are central to many people’s aches and pains, from knees to hips, to backs and more. Stretching your hips can go a long way! I like using a simple runner’s type of stretch or what I call the Captain Morgan stretch. A few times on each side daily will go a long ways. (This article is a good illustration and variations of the stretch I'm talking about.)
There’s 4 quick things to get you thinking about how to balance out your body from the time you spend at your desk each day, but the above isn’t enough on it’s own.
If you want to break the myth that, “aches and pains come with age,” resistance based exercise, stretching and cardiovascular based exercise NEED to be a part of your life.
Now in my forties I appreciate this in a way I never understood in my twenties and hearing my clients struggle. You don’t have to hurt, and you can keep up with the kids, grandkids or pretty much anybody else, trust me!
That temporary post workout soreness is another matter, but that’s why we created our Ache & Pain Bath Soak!