Working Out the Kinks of Middle Age
Everyone gets to a point where their bodies simply aren’t happy with them. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to stop the “creaks and groans” of middle age, but there are some things you can do to slow them down.
In some cases it isn’t even about being middle-aged — it’s about being “overused.” If you played competitive sports for a long time, spent some time in the minor leagues, played college football, or just “overdid it” you know what I mean.
It’s no fun to get out of bed every day and have the same aching knee, shoulder, or back. It’s also not any fun resigning yourself to living with pain.
There are a few things you can do to help strengthen common “problem” areas where people tend to experience lingering pain. These exercises won’t solve all your problems, but they should help the situation. Your back, shoulders, and knees will thank you!
That Kink in Your Back
Not everyone can just crack his back, and I’m not even sure that relieves all the pain you might be feeling. Lower back pain seems like it is becoming more and more common; everywhere you turn you hear of someone throwing his or her back out.
Back pain is caused, primarily, by overuse, muscle strain, or some kind of injury you may have sustained in your younger days. Strengthening your core and the muscles that support your lower torso will help alleviate some back pain.
Lay on your back with your knees bent. Slowly lower the small of your back to the floor, hold, and then relax. Repeat as many times as you feel necessary to relax your back. This sort of “stretch” should help to elongate muscles in your lower back.
On all fours keep your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Lift your head up and lower your stomach towards the floor. You should feel a stretch in your lower back. This stretch should also help elongate the muscles in your lower back.
Lay on your back with your knees bent. Slowly lift your hips off the ground and lower back down. You don’t have to tense up your abdomen. Simply raise your hips and your abs will be activated. Hold and lower back to the floor. Complete 10-15 reps.
Place your back against the wall with your feet about a foot and a half from the wall. Slowly squat down against the wall until you are “seated.” If you can go farther, lower yourself until your knees are at a 45-degree angle. Complete 10-15 reps.
I Got Bad Knees
I know that having an aching knee is a great way to predict the weather, but unless you live in San Diego (where it never rains) keeping that aching knee isn’t worth it. Every step you take shouldn’t be painful.
Because it’s very easy to be hard on your knees at work it’s advisable to stretch out your knees before work. When you get a break or go home you can perform some strengthening exercises.
Oh, and we’ll get you a weather radio to fill-in for your “weather predicting knee.”
Sit down in a chair and stick your legs out so your heels are on the floor. With your toes pointing up flex your thighs for 5-10 seconds. Relax and complete a set of 10. This contraction will help to relax the muscles that support the knees.
Lay down on your stomach. Place your left foot on your right heel. While pushing down with your left foot raise your right foot up. Complete 10 reps and switch. The exercise will strengthen more muscles that support your knees.
Hip Abductor Stretch
Lay on your side and use your hand to hold up your head. Bend your lower leg to 90 degrees. Slowly lift your upper leg and hold. Slowly lower it down and complete 10 reps. Keeping the outer thigh strong will help align your knees and reduce pain.
Oh, My Shoulders!
Everyone gets tension in their shoulders and a back rub might be a nice option for you. However, people differ in the amount of pressure they can stand.
Some people could take the “Vulcan Neck Grip” and that still wouldn’t be powerful enough. Some people, like myself, can barely handle a back rub because we’re so freaking sensitive.
Relieving tension and pain in your shoulders can help you sleep better, feel better during the day, and even be more productive on the job. Constantly wishing for a back rub isn’t going to help either.
You need to get on this right away before the tension in your shoulders makes you into a shoulder-shrugging mess.
Rotator Cuff Curl
Wrap one end of a resistance band around a door knob or immovable object. Take the other end of the band with your hand and let your arm start at a 90-degree angle to your body. Pull the resistance band as you move your hand towards your stomach in a “gate-swinging” motion. Keep your body still and make sure to do the work with your arm.
Lay on one side with your hand supporting your head. With your free hand grasp a dumbbell that is place directly in front of you. Lift the dumbbell while keeping your elbow close to your body. As you lift the weight make sure your arm stays perpendicular to your body. Complete 10 reps.
No, not a tattoo (although, if that’s your cup of tea then have at it)! I would recommend leaning against a table with one arm and leaning over. Let your free arm dangle toward the floor. Draw circles, or maybe the alphabet, with your arm as it dangles in front of you. This is the perfect kind of stretch to use when you are feeling tension in your shoulder or to simply get loose for a long day at work.
Even though these exercises are not complicated they can help you get a handle on your aches and pains in your back, shoulders, and knees. Stop predicting the weather, losing sleep, or under-performing at work because you’re in pain.
Work out the kinks of middle-age and overuse with a few simple stretches and get those nagging pains under control.