Exercise: What is really causing your aches and pains? Hormonal change or poor movement patterns! Part 1 #3
If you've ever groaned while getting out of bed or hesitated before picking up something off the floor, you're not alone. Aches and pains are often chalked up to "just getting older," but did you know that how you move could be a major culprit? Today, we're are going to look deeper into our movement patterns and those nagging aches and pains.
The Relationship Between Poor Movement Patterns and Common Aches - The Domino Effect
Poor movement patterns are like that one bad apple that spoils the bunch. They can lead to muscle imbalances, joint stress, and over time, pain. For instance, sitting in the lounge chair, reading off our phone or playing games. Eventually, you will start to get a pain in your hands and wrists from holding the phone at an angle, your neck will get sore from consistently looking down and placing stress on the neck, your slouching, hunched forward position ends up with your chest being tight and the muscles in your back being weak, leading to pains between the shoulder blades and in the front of your shoulder.
The Science Behind It
Research shows that our poor biomechanics (the way we move, or our posture) can contribute to conditions like osteoarthritis, bursitis, joint wear and tear and other issues - especially in weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips.
So, it's not just about discomfort; continuing with these poor movement or postural patterns can have a large impact on our lives moving forward.
The Double-Edged Sword: Lack of Movement
While poor movement patterns can lead to aches and pains, lack of movement can be found equally as guilty. It's a bit of a paradox, isn't it? You move poorly, you hurt. You don't move, you still hurt.
When we are not active, our muscles can become weak and imbalanced, and your joints stiffen and lose their range of motion. And anybody who knows me, knows I talk regularly about the fascial layers in the body and how, with lack of movement, they "dehydrate", which in turn leads to pain, stiffness and poor movement.
This lack of activity can lead to stiffness and discomfort. For example, sitting for extended periods can lead to tight hip flexors, which in turn can cause lower back pain, a feeling of tight hamstrings, and eventaully shoulder and knee pain.
The sad part is, that this then leads to us moving less, which in turn makes us hurt more.
Meet Emily. Emily, a woman in her late 50s, started experiencing lower back pain. She assumed it was just "an age thing". However, on further analysis, it was the way she was walking, which leadin to stress on her lower back. By adding some exercises and making her aware of how she is moving, changing some habits, Emily's back pain significantly reduced.
Susan, 63, loves gardening but found that her shoulders and lower back would ache badly afterwards. Getting her to replicate the movements she does when gardening, you could see that the way she was lifting her gardening tools and compost bags was putting extra strain on her shoulders and lower back muscles. Helping her correct her lifting techniques, Susan now gardens with minimal discomfort.
BUT IT DOESN'T END THERE.................
Aging and Aches: The Female Perspective -The Inevitable Changes
As women age, hormonal changes like reduced estrogen levels can also have an impact muscle and joint aches and pains, leading to increased stiffness, reduced muscle mass and which then causes us to want to move less. The good news to this is that movement can be a powerful antidote.
Engaging in regular, balanced exercise can help maintain muscle mass, improve our joint mobility, and even alleviate stiffness and pain. Strength training, in particular, can be a game-changer, helping to offset muscle loss and improve overall functional fitness. Strength training in particular has a profound impact on the neurological function of our brain during different stages of menopause.
So while it may feel like you are going nowhere when you exercise, it is helping and you should notice the differences as you progress.
So, ladies, the next time you feel an ache or pain, consider looking at how you move, sit or the things you do on a day-to-day basis. And if you want help, come and chat to us and we can do a movement assessment. If we can’t help you, we will refer you out to one of the fabulous, allied health professionals we deal with.
If you get to the root cause, then you can generally eliminate most if not all symptoms. And often, that may be easier than you think—it's in how you move every single day.
"The Effects of Hormonal Changes on Musculoskeletal System in Postmenopausal Women," Journal of Aging Research, 2019
"The Impact of Prolonged Sitting on Lower Back Pain," Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 2015
"The Relationship Between Biomechanics and Musculoskeletal Pain," Journal of Orthopaedic Research, 2018.
1. Be Mindful:
Pay attention to how you move, whether you're exercising, gardening, or even just walking.
2. Consult the Pros:
If you're experiencing persistent aches and pains, consider getting a movement analysis to identify any poor movement patterns.
3. Educate Yourself:
The more you know about how movement impacts your body, the better equipped you'll be to make positive changes.