Joint pain? That stiff feeling you have every morning and after you sit in your favorite chair for a long time. Stiffness in your fingers, difficulty kneeling down or getting up and forget about squatting. It's all part of getting older. At least, that's what I heard when I started having joint stiffness that made it difficult to do some things.
I've seen a lot of folks experience this part of getting older and I'm not a stranger to it. But, the difference may be that I decided that I would do something about it. Before I started a stretching and exercise routine, I asked my doctor if there was any reason I couldn't start exercising or strength training.
It wasn't easy to make exercise part of my daily routine and it took many visits to a physical therapist before I was satisfied that I could do it on my own.
The fix to most of the joint stiffness was simple. All I had to do was learn how to stretch, get some extension on my joints and push myself a little to get past the pain to gain more flexibility and less joint stiffness and pain.
Stiffness and some morning back pain may be natural, but I don't have to let it get me down. Here's what I do almost every morning:
- I start with good old fashioned windmills with my arms. Fifteen to twenty seconds is good enough to gets the blood circulating and help stretch my shoulders and rotator cuffs.
- A full body stretch is next. I reach high and try to touch the ceiling going as high as I can. I spread my fingers and feel the stiffness leaving them. I'll do four or five repetitions.
- My third stretch is a side to side turning stretch. I do this four to five times in each direction twisting as far as I can to improve flexibility in my spine.
- The next thing I do is a back extension stretch with my hands on my hips and arch my back as far as I can. This is also done four or five times.
- Next comes what some people call a "cat cow" stretch. This is my favorite and the one I got the most benefit from when I was taking physical therapy. I get down on my hands and knees and let my stomach extend toward the floor (the cat), then I'll arch my back upward as far as I can (the cow). I'll do ten or twelve reps of this one and hold the upward arch for about ten seconds.
- The last thing is a yoga exercise, the plank. I keep my back as straight as possible and hold the pose until my abdominal muscles can't take it.
Sometimes I'll throw in hamstring, quad and calf stretches along with some body weight exercises, but I don't do them every morning. When I do my morning routine, I concentrate on breathing during the stretches and sucking my belly button toward my spine.
The whole thing takes about five minutes, but the dividends are priceless. It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you consult with your doctor before you start any kind of exercise program. I'm not a doctor or an expert. I only know what works for me and this information is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any medical condition.
The CDC Recommends Older adults get at least: 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week, AND muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
It probably doesn't matter what kind of exercise you get. You can download all kinds of free information, photos and illustrations. It may not be easy, but if you make a little exercise part of your lifestyle, you'll probably feel better and enjoy a more pain-free life. You'll like the results.