As each year passes, we feel the effects of our bodies aging. Aches and pains appear where they’ve never been before. Although we can’t turn the clock back, we can fight back!
To help keep pain at the lowest level, I suggest the following:
First, check your diet to make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D. Since Vitamin D helps your body use calcium, it’s necessary to maintain strong bones and teeth, avoiding painful small fractures or osteoporosis. Vitamin D is found in fortified dairy products, as well as egg yolk, liver, fish and butter. Fortunately, your body can even make its own Vitamin D when skin is exposed to the sun. So, why not take advantage of the warm weather and pack a folding chair in your rig so you can catch a few rays between loads? What a great way to stock up on Vitamin D.
You can also avoid pain by watching your weight. Carrying an oversized load puts extra strain on your entire body. Every system has to work harder to keep functioning well. Your joints, especially, feel the pressure and may let you know through pain. Extra belly weight is a major cause of lower back pain. So, just taking off a few pounds could really help.
Getting enough sleep can help, too. Certainly, it gives your body time to relax and recover from the regular stresses of the day, both physical and mental. As well, during sleep, your brain releases a chemical that increases your sense of contentment, which can relieve depression which often leads to increased pain levels.
Interestingly, different age groups tend to experience different types of pain.
If you’re in your thirties, headaches are the main complaint. Tension headaches, which are described as constant pain and pressure instead of the throbbing pain of a migraine, may actually become more severe with age. However, migraines tend to peak in severity between the ages of 35 and 45.
Finding the cause of headaches can be challenging. Some common triggers of migraines are flashing lights, wine, cheese, food, food dyes, irregular eating times or even skipping your usual coffee times. When you get a headache, try to identify the cause; then, avoid that trigger in the future.
For headaches, you might try over-the-counter pain relievers, or acupuncture, yoga, and focused stress-reduction techniques.
In your thirties, when you physically push yourself like you did in your early twenties, your body just can’t respond as well. The result is muscle pain, tendonitis, lower back pain, shoulder pain and/or tennis elbow. Repetitive motions begin to take their toll on your body beginning at this age, especially if your joint alignment is a little off.
However, by consciously using good form, you can avoid injury. Lift with your legs to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on your back. Avoid working with your arms above your head because it creates extra pressure on your shoulders and neck.
Think about your posture all the time: when you’re driving, walking, hooking up your trailer and climbing in and out of your rig.
In your forties and beyond, the effects of any past injuries will become more noticeable. Osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease appear. With degenerative disc disease, the discs (shock absorbers for the spine, allowing it to flex, bend, and twist) dry out, becoming brittle. This condition causes pain, limits range of motion, and irritates muscles or tendons. In addition, chronic back, neck, hand, knee and hip pain now appear.
These two groups experience arthritis pain in their forties or fifties: The ones who are very fit and have injured themselves mid-life by overdoing exercise; and those who have made no effort, whatsoever, to keep fit.
To relieve short-term joint and lower back pain, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, or prescription medications may help. However, it may take two weeks of regular dosages to work. Some people opt for surgery.
Even so, surgery should be a last resort because of possible serious complications. As well, if the root cause of the pain is not resolved, the pain often will return later.
You may also consider acupuncture, physical therapy, athletic therapy, muscle injections to reduce inflammation, or a combination of these therapies. Just be persistent until you find something that works for you.
Certainly, strengthening your core muscles is a great option to avoid strain and pain.
Strengthening your abs will reduce lower back pain because your abdominal muscles actually support the lower back. Strengthening the quadricep muscles which run between your hip and knee cap on the front of your upper leg will reduce knee pain, and help you maintain balance to avoid falls.
So, no matter how old, there is still time to take action.
Maintain your health now, so “pain in the neck” can remain just a figure of speech.
-Karen Bowen is a professional health and nutrition consultant , and she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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