Losing mobility: It’s just a part of ageing, isn’t it?
By Taylor-Jane Sharouni
It’s a common perception that losing flexibility and mobility is a normal part of ageing, and something we must learn to live with. Unfortunately, many individuals (and even some health professionals) believe that joint stiffness and reduced motion is not only common, but expected. This leads to the problem often being ignored, when it should be addressed. While stiffness in joints and inflexibility in muscles can increase as a person ages, it actually indicates that something is not quite right. Mobility is vital for health and wellness. The good news is that it’s is easily improvable.
Decreasing joint movement is a slippery slope to poor health. Once it begins, it’s common for people to reduce activity, as they worry that exercise will make their joint stiffness worse. In fact, the opposite is true. Exercise of an appropriate type and intensity will actually help you move more smoothly and easily. In addition, low physical activity levels are linked to depression, obesity, inflammation, muscle and joint degeneration, and even reduced brain function (Alfini, et al., 2016) (Meisner, Dogra, Logan, Baker, & Weir, 2010); (Starkweather, 2007).
Healthy moving is part of healthy ageing… it’s not only good for our joints and muscles, but also our mental and physical health. Creaky, grinding knees? Avoiding movement will only make it worse. There is ample evidence to show that physical activity and exercise is some of the best medicine for joint conditions such as osteoarthritis – a common, painful condition that can cause reduced joint movement (Yamato, Deveza, & Maher, 2016). Regardless of the sore joint, movement is shown to reduce inflammation and pain and increase mobility in almost all cases. This is great news!
Gone are the days where your usual or favourite activities should be stopped because we’re “getting too old for that”. There is no such thing as “too old” or “too late” when it comes to movement. You can usually gain back a lot of the movement you’ve lost; or return to a time of confidence and ease in using your body. It may be that some simple stretching and strengthening will keep you moving freely and doing what you love for life. Keep in mind, there are some dangers here. Jumping suddenly into intense exercise such as bootcamp can be harmful. There’s a lot to be said for getting the right advice and taking your time. Remember, you’re going to be moving for life; there’s no need to rush!
Combined with good nutritional support, it’s entirely possible to improve joint and muscle health and enable you to continue to live an active and engaged life well into your old age.
If you feel that your mobility isn’t what it used to be, or if you are interested in learning more about how to improve and maintain your mobility, please come and visit Endeavour Wellness Clinics for a Myotherapy/MST session. They will show you what “normal” joint movement should really be, and how you can achieve it through stretching, strengthening, exercise, treatment and nutrition.
Alfini, A. J., Weiss, L. R., Leitner, B. P., Smith, T. J., Hagberg, J. M., & Smith, J. C. (2016). Hippocampal and cerebral blood flow after exercise cessation in master athletes. Frontiers in Ageing and Neuroscience, 8(184). Retrieved August 31, 2016
Meisner, B., Dogra, S., Logan, J., Baker, J., & Weir, P. (2010). Do or decline? Comparing the effect of physical inactivity on biopsychosocial components of successful ageing. Journal of Health Psychology, 688-698. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from http://hpq.sagepub.com.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/content/15/5/688.full.pdf+html
Starkweather, A. (2007). The effect of exercise on percieved stress and IL-6 levels among older adults. Biological Research for Nursing, 8(3), 186-194. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from http://brn.sagepub.com.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/content/8/3/186.full.pdf+html
Yamato, T. P., Deveza, L. A., & Maher, C. M. (2016). Exercise for osteoarthritis of the knee (PEDro synthesis). British Journal of Sports Medicine, 50(16), 1013-1014. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from http://bjsm.bmj.com.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/content/50/16/1013.full