Is pain an inevitable part of ageing? We find out how we can help our bodies to age without pain.
If you send a lot of time around older people in the community it can feel like a lot of the conversations revolve around medical ailments, problems and pain. We have a perception that as we age we will be in some level pain and from our 40s onwards many of us start to feel little niggles and aches when we wake in the morning before we ‘get going’.
It isn’t a given that we have to age with pain and there are some daily habits and practices that we can do to help assist with pain reduction as we grow into the golden years.
1. Reduce inflammation
Inflammation is known to cause pain and ailments in our bodies so it makes sense to try and reduce inflammation as much as possible in order to reduce pain. Inflammation is a natural response as the body tries to fight infection. White blood cells, immune cells and cytokines all increase causing an area to become swollen, red, painful and hot where infection is present.
Problems arise when inflammation becomes chronic and leads to serious disease and health complications. There are a number of ways we can reduce inflammation, from staying within a healthy weight range, ensuring we are properly hydrated and getting enough exercise. Following a diet rich in anti-inflammatory food is key, vegetables, fruits (particularly berries and avocado), good fats and oils like olive oil and fatty fish like salmon and sardines can all assist in reducing inflammation.
Fish oil, ginger, spirulina and Vitamin D can also assist in keeping inflammation at bay so try and incorporate these into your wellness regime. Adequate, good quality sleep is key to keeping your body in top shape.
2. Remain supple
There is a reason that 60 and 70-something yogis can still bend and flex like 20-year olds, a daily practice of stretching, moving and deep breathing assists in keeping muscles long, in shape and flexible. The old adage of ‘use it or lose it’ really rings true if you want to remain supple as you enter the later stages of life.
Try yoga, including yin yoga, which holds asanas (poses) for a long periods of time to encourage the health of your fascia, which is the thin connective tissues that hold our muscles, organs, bones, blood vessels and nerves in place. Or try Pilates which is low impact and will keep the body lean, long and healthy.
3. Keep weight in check
Added weight places additional strain on our bodies and as we age fat around our central organs can result in a range of health complications. We like to follow the 80/20 rule – eat across the rainbow of healthy food 80% of the time and still enjoy ourselves 20% of the time. Try focusing on nutritious healthy foods and exercising regularly rather than weight loss, it is likely to be more sustainable ongoing.
If you are really struggling with diet make a few healthy switches to start with, try swapping one coffee per day with a green tea, vegetable oil with olive oil, full fat milk to light milk, sugar to Manuka honey and milk chocolate to dark chocolate. A few little switches will start you on your health journey and aren’t difficult, compared to trying to overhauling your entire diet in one go.
Try our Good Morning Sunshine smoothie as a great way to start the day.
4. Keep on moving
Movement is key to good health and with shocking statistics about the negative effects sitting all day has on our health, getting up and moving is one of the best ways to fight pain and inflammation. Try walking (see our tips on how to walk more here), swimming and yoga which are all low impact and are great for both mind and body.
5. Prevention is always better than cure
Wear and tear on our bodies is natural over time, we put them through a lot of stress over the years so we have to expect some degeneration over time. By observing these small changes when we are younger and dealing with them as they arrive really assist with pain management in our older years. Regular check ups and blood tests with your health professional are crucial to keeping on top of small niggles and pains.
6. Care for your mind
It isn’t just our bodies that succumb to pain over time, our minds can also feel the pressure as we grow old. Keeping stress at a minimum, finding ways to relax and find small joys in life is critical to keeping our minds healthy.
Challenging our brains with complex tasks and variety is keep as we age. Try puzzles, crosswords, learning a language (see some of our favourites apps here), trick your brain by brushing your teeth with the opposite hand, or take a different route on your daily walk to fill your brain with new experiences to keep it active. Being valued and valuable in the community is also a great way to keep active and engaged. With so much age and experience, try sharing it with others by mentoring younger workers, participating in local events and community activities or offering to volunteer where you can.
With a few daily habits and health tweaks you can continue well in your older years without pain and enjoy a healthy, happy and fulfilling life.