Do you wake up and need to rub your knees or shoulders or back, because your joints are aching? This is joint pain… There is a variety of pain and a variety of reasons why we experience pain. So today, I want to focus on understanding joint pain, and specifically, why we have MORNING JOINT PAIN
We go to bed… we have a good night of sleep… and yet, we wake feeling like we have been hit by a ton of bricks! You may know that morning stiffness is more common as one gets older… but is it inevitable?
Lets start by looking at some of the causes of morning stiffness:
1. Inactivity – General inactivity leads to muscle weakness and poor flexibility that puts extra strain on our joints.
2. Poor sleep – Interrupted sleep, too much or too little sleep, can affect our joints the next day.
3. Being overweight – Excess weight puts extra strain on our joints as well as causing us to feel lethargic.
4. A cold or damp environment – If we are sleeping in an area that is cold of damp, that will cause us to be tense during sleep and the cold will stiffen the joints.
5. Prolonged stillness – when we sleep we are still, therefore the fluid in our joints moves to where gravity tells it and our joints aren’t lubricated evenly when we start moving in the morning.
6. Arthritis or other chronic conditions – Joint stiffness is often worst following periods of inactivity. So in the morning our joints have stiffened up and you may experience pain.
So now that we know some of the things that cause us to be stiff… how do we counterbalance this and relax our stiff muscles???
The body is a magical thing. We have millions of cells that work together to create everything we need to stay alive and functioning. Our cells keep us going 24/7, 365. The way it works is simple: Every day our cells take in nutrients, air, and more. They use what they can and dispose of what they cannot. Of course, our cells are subjected to an ageing process as well. In fact, how we age is influenced by the wear and tear of our cells. We subject our cells to oxidative stress when we ask them to dispose of toxic by-products that we receive from the air and food we consume. So how we manage this oxidative stress, results in how well our cells manage wear and tear.
Much research is being done into how and why certain species live for hundreds or years and others for only a few weeks. Most of the evidence comes back to this oxidative stress. If our cells are constantly working overtime to remove bad products from the system, they will deteriorate faster. This is why we know that part of delaying our “wear and tear” comes with not subjecting our cells to extra oxidative stress. At the same time, we are continually developing strategies to prolong life and delay ageing.
One study from Future Learn, found that successful ageing comes down to 3 things:
1. Managing your health
We all know that being healthy involves eating right and exercising, doing things that are good for you and avoiding things that are bad for you. Yet, very few of us seem to follow these guidelines. Managing your health is about more than “putting out fires” when they pop up, we need to make it a priority to put our health first.
2. Staying involved with your community
People who are isolated are more likely to develop depression, frailty and overall poor health. Humans are designed to live in community and so it is vital to stay involved in the community.
3. Focusing on personal development
It is never too late to learn new skills and keep growing. When we stagnate and stop challenging ourselves, this is when we will see a decline. Grow in your strengths… learn new things… develop yourself personally and continually.
Ageing is a natural process. Ageing well is a conscious effort.
Do you want to start your journey of ageing well?
Why don’t you start with an exercise class?
Click here to come book a free trial exercise class specifically designed for older adults!
There is one thing that is certain in life, and that is that each and every one of us ages a little bit, every day. In your 20’s and 30’s ageing is probably not even noticed, as life is so busy and exciting. By the time you are 40, some hints start creeping in, but these are minor symptoms of ageing – slight crow’s feet around your eyes, or somewhat less vigour and energy compared to when you were in your youth, for example. When you are in your mid 50’s all of a sudden, out of nowhere, you have developed several aches and pains, body stiffness, and you may have to take a handful of pills every day for a list of chronic conditions that you have somehow managed to accumulate. What about when you are 70 or 80 years old, then what? Considering that life expectancy has increased substantially, and that people are living much longer than a few decades ago, it’s certainly becoming a realistic question to ask, “When I am in my mid-80’s, how will I have aged and how functional will I be?”
Ageing seems to be relative, as some people approach ageing with the attitude of “70 is the new 60”. How old are you really? Your biological age is simply how long you have been alive, but a much more important question is, “What is your body age?” In other words, how well does your body work and function? Is your body old, stiff, weak, unable to carry out functional activities because of pain, disease, chronic conditions and poor lifestyle habits? Or are you mobile, functional, able and fit? Although we are all getting “older” every day, exercise has been shown to challenge the concept of biological ageing, as it significantly reduces the risk of disease development and other chronic conditions that are so often associated with old age.
August – the month when women unite to celebrate their uniqueness and embrace the power that comes with being female. Women are special and so it makes sense that the ageing process, as well as the factors that influence ageing are different between the genders. So while there are a lot of similarities, there are some things that are uniquely female.
According to the World Health Organisation, women live an average four years longer than men. Life expectancy ranges from 58 – 80 across the world. However cardiovascular disease, which is often considered a “male” problem, is the number one cause of death in women. Luckily exercise substantially reduces not only the risk of cardiovascular disease but also many other chronic disease risk factors including breast cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes and more. Women tend to live longer than men, as they make up 54% of people 60 years of age, 60% at age 75 and older, and to 70% at age 90 and older. As a result, it is even more important for older women to ensure that they maintain an active lifestyle achieving the correct type and amount of exercise. Being active is not just about adding years to your life, it’s about adding quality life to your years.
Improved health care has lead to an unprecedented growth in the older population and soon there will be more adults over 65 than children under 5 years of age. However, the incidence of falls is also increasing and fall injuries are now among the 20 most expensive medical conditions.
As seen in the image above, 1 in 3 individuals over the age of 65 falls once a year, and of those who fall, half will fall recurrently. By the age of 80 the proportion of older adults who fall annually increases to 50%. Falls lead to morbidity and mortality and can have serious implications on the individual as well as on the global population.
Over the last few months, I have reviewed several research issues related to aging in general and specifically the relationship between exercise and healthy aging. So what have I learned that I think physicians should know?