Most of the population live in (endure) pain EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
Whether it's muscle and joint pain in your back, neck and shoulders when you stand up from your desk and get into and out of your car, pain in your knees and back when you tend to the garden at the weekend, or knee and back pain when you're trying to play with the kids, it means that the amount of pills and drugs we pop is higher than ever.
NEWSFLASH - You SHOULDN'T be in pain every day
You’re not alone. As we spend more hours in the office at our desks (often up to 10 hours a day or more), our bodies become increasingly tight and immobile. Add the car journey home through (stuck in?) Auckland traffic and then sitting again when you get home to the family, our bodies become accustomed to this seated position.
Many people, (and rightly so) are investigating different types of training in the hope of reducing their aches, pains and old muscle injuries as they age, and they always want to keep up with the kids and grand kids!
As we often remind our clients – when you are here with us at The Active Lifestyle, you are practising perfect form and perfect posture. This is important, as you probably don't keep perfect posture in your mind when you aren't training. You are becoming less and less supple and more and more immobile every day.
What does this mean?
It means that everything you do is becoming more difficult.
If you feel like it takes a lot of effort to get into and out of your car, in one years’ time, it will be harder. In five years’ time, it will be a lot harder.
What about your hobbies? Enjoy playing golf? As your mobility decreases, golf will be harder. Swinging the club to hit the ball will be harder. Getting around the golf course will be harder. The soreness you experience in your legs after a long day walking the golf course will worsen.
How long are you planning on living?
What age would you like to live to?
What will your quality of life be like as you age?
Many clients remind me that they often do a lot of walking at the weekends. Walking is good for you, yes, but it doesn’t put your muscles or your heart under much stress. A bit more intensity is required if walking is all that you do.
When considering pain reduction, it’s important to train the right way to ensure that you don’t make the problem worse.
Different types of well-known training
Crossfit – For anyone with any serious muscle imbalances, old injuries involving ligament tears, cartilage or tendon issues, I would strongly advise against partking in Crossfit. It is fun, gives you a wide variety of exercises and you can also be part of the club, but one mistake could be very costly – often people with old injuries find that they are susceptible to re-injury or even flare ups, (as they are often not working on correcting muscle imbalances to fix and avoid future injufry) so if you know you have potential injury issues I would be very wary of recommending Crossfit.
Functional Training – Functional training spans a very wide catchment and its basis of strength training is a good one. Functional training usually involves a lot of bodyweight exercises, a lot of basic movement patterns like sitting down and standing up, hip hinges (bending at the hips and not rounding your upper back) accompanied by a varying degree of weighted exercises, which will help keep your bone density higher (reducing the chances of bone breaks), help your quality of movement (as you are stronger) and also help you feel good (endorphin release from exercise).
Yoga – Yoga can be exceptional for improving range of motion, movement quality, and reducing pain. In the case of yoga, it depends what kind of rehabilitation the bodypart in question needs – if it requires strength, (often joint pain is related to weak supporting muscles) then Yoga can usually only take you so far. However, for maintaining suppleness and still imposing a strength aspect in your workout, yoga can be a fabulous choice as it can also be used to improve state of mind due to the breathing and meditative aspects.
High Intensity Interval Training – HIIT training involves a circuit of exercises arranged in various ways, usually incorporating strength work, bodyweight work and strictly cardiovascular work. Therefore, (like functional training), HIIT can be a great option for those wanting to improve their body shape and reduce their pain levels. However, it’s important to modify exercises where possible to avoid any danger to those areas with pain and get the best results possible.
Bodyweight Training – Many people promote utilising their bodyweight exclusively as a training program. This has both advantages and disadvantages - doing bodyweight work often means that you are less likely to re-injure yourself as the stress placed on your body is lower. Conversely, it means that you can only go so far with bodyweight training as at some point you will need an external load to help you progress. More specifically, if you are trying to alleviate pain and reduce the impact of old injuries, it depends if there is a safe / easy to do movement for that area - push ups can be a great rehabilitation exercise for shoulder injuries, but using your own bodyweight to help fix lower back pain or neck pain is another story. Often, these areas need external loading to stress the body enough to build strength in these areas. One advantage of bodyweight training is that you can exercise anywhere, quickly and easily because you are always with your own body, the only thing you need!
All that being said, any sort of safe training will be beneficial for you to help reduce your pain, improve your mobility and improve your strength. It's better than doing nothing at all.
As with anything, seek out someone with expertise that you trust to ensure you are making the most efficient progress possible. If you have questions or would like advice, don't hesitate to share and reply to this article.