Aches and pains in your 40s

For many of us, it’s in our 40s when we start to feel things don’t quite move like they used to, and you don’t quite recover like you did. We see a lot of people in our clinics who don’t have an injury as such, and don’t have horrible pain,…

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Aches and pains in your 40s

For many of us, it’s in our 40s when we start to feel things don’t quite move like they used to, and you don’t quite recover like you did.

We see a lot of people in our clinics who don’t have an injury as such, and don’t have horrible pain, but things have just started to hurt. They’ve nearly all been told it’s because they’re “not as young as they used to be”.

So if you’re over 40, should you just resign yourself to these aches, and getting injured more than you did or is there anything you can do?

40 isn’t old

I think most people would agree that 40 isn’t old. But unfortunately, it’s round about this age that aches and pains start to get blamed on your age by both (partly) joking family members and some medical professionals too.

It’s easy to start to believe that they are inevitable, but this simply isn’t true.

What changes when you hit 40?

Really? Not that much. Your joints and muscles have worked hard supporting you and moving you for a little longer than when you were 30. Some structures are slightly less flexible than they were when you were 30 too.

But on top of these reasons, one of the key things that means that 40+ year olds are likely to have some aches and pains is that life is busy and they exercise less.

40 somethings exercise less

By this age, work is well established, and many will be at a more senior level, meaning more time at a desk. The children will be of an age where you ferry them around and do things for them. The fact is, more 40 something year olds report doing no regular activity than any age group other than the over 75s and the over 90s.

There’s no escaping the fact that movement is good for you. Regular exercise promotes strength and flexilbility, and when either of these reduce, your likelihood of having pain increases.

Over 40 and feeling it? Here’s what you should do

  • Make time for regular exercise. This doesn’t have to be a high intensity sport or activity. Just something that increases your heart rate, and works your muscles. Even 30 minutes, twice a week or 15 to 20 minutes, 3 times per week can help you stay stronger and more flexible and reduce your chances of pain.
  • Stretch: Very few people like stretching, and the fact is you can generally get away with not doing when you’re younger. But as you get older, it becomes more important. Structures gradually become less flexible as we get older. Tight muscles are the main cause of lots of injuries. So, if muscles are more likely to be tight as you get older, it’s more important to stretch. It’s generally agreed that your 40s are when you really need to start to work on this more
  • Get stronger: Not only do muscles become tighter, they also tend to weaken as you get older. This is particularly true in a time in life when exercise is less likely, so incorporating some resistance training is important. This doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym. Resistance bands and body weight exercises are really useful to get the muscles working and keep them strong. Joints that are supported by strong muscles are much less likely to give you pain
  • Rest is important: Just as muscles get tighter and less strong, they are also more prone to fatigue. They get tired quicker. This is partly because they are weaker, but also because they are less efficient than they used to be. Tired muscles are another major reason for pain and injury. So, rest is really important. Once upon a time, you could probably exercise really hard, most days, but incorporating some extra rest into your routine is important as you get older.
  • Nutrition is vital: Fueling your body well is important at any age. But, like with other things, it’s even more important as you get a bit older. The body needs a little more help than it used to to stay working, mobile and pain-free and getting the right foods is really helpful. Having enough protein is important in keeping connective tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments etc) in good condition. Added to that, there are lots of foods that reduce inflammation in the body. Things like tumeric, ginger, and blueberries are really helpful in reducing the inflammatory levels present in your body, naturally reducing aches and pains

Doom and gloom

All of the above makes it sound like the world ends at 40 and pain is inevitable. This is obviously not true, and without doing any of the above, you may well be absolutely fine. However, making some simple changes to your activity levels, adding in stretching and some resistance training, and making sure you rest and eat well, can all have a huge impact on the aches and pains you experience.

Problems really come when people see those aches and pains as inevitable. They don’t try and rectify them, which means they persist and often get worse, and can kick start a downward spiral, of increasing pain, and reducing energy and activity levels.

We see this a lot in clinics. But, with a few changes (set out above) it’s actually relatively simple to feel better in your 40s than you have done for years. It’s simple but we’re not saying it’s easy, so if you need some help, then we’re here for exactly that. Lots of people think that you have to be in horrible pain to come to Physio, but actually, we can help you prevent pain as well as fight it when it’s there.

Over 40 and wanting some help?

So, if you need some help to know what resistance exercise to do. To know which stretches are best, and how much rest you need, please get in touch. We can help you with exactly that. Click here to speak to your closest Physio clinic about how we can help you live better with less pain.

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