7 Ways to Manage Nagging Aches and Pains
By Lauren Noelle Gauthier
Remember when you could go for a run, barely stretch and feel like a million bucks the next day? If those days are gone, and instead you have nagging aches and pains that don’t go away like they used to, don’t throw in the towel on athletic activities. Try these eight tips for things to do around and in between workouts to keep you active and feeling strong all day long (because the only thing that should really age you is your wisdom, not your pain).
1. Focus on flexbility: Believe it or not, the science is actually inconclusive about the value of stretching before and after workouts. However, regularly stretching can improve flexibility and joint range of motion and may prevent some post-workout muscle soreness. In addition, chronically tight and/or imbalanced muscles can hinder correct form and optimal performance, which may lead to aches, pains and possibly injury. Whether you do weekly yoga or stand up and stretch regularly, incorporating a few “ohms” and “Namastes” and “pretzel-like” poses into your daily or weekly routine can make a big difference. Remember, muscles should be warm before you stretch, so stretching after a workout is ideal, but a few minutes of walking, or other activity, can also work.
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2. Apply… Wait: Is it heat, then ice? Or ice, then heat? The doc says: Pack on the heat, then play it cool. It might seem counter-intuitive, but heat can relieve immediate pain while cold can reduce inflammation and swelling, especially around a joint or tendon. For applying heat, try a heating pad, heating pack, sauna, steamed towel or hot bath. For cold, try an ice pack, frozen gel pack, coolant spray, ice massage or ice bath.
3. Sit Tall (and proud!). Nobody likes a slouch (not even your back). If you have a desk job or if you find yourself sitting in one place for long periods of time, practicing proper posture can reduce pain as you age. Sit with your back straight with your shoulders back; distribute your body weight evenly on both hips; bend your knees at right angles; and keep your feet flat on the floor.
4. Eat smart and healthy. Did you know that chowing down on anti-inflammatory foods like tomatoes, olive oil, nuts, fatty fish and fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of inflammation and pain in your body? Yep, eating smart not only gives you more energy, a healthier glow and a better feeling on the outside, but helps you maintain your physical health and feel better on the inside.
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5. Get moving around the house, the office and even outdoors. Doing simple, daily movement exercises like walking, shoveling, cleaning around the house and even gardening can give your muscles and joints a good workout and reduce future inflammation, as well as boost your energy levels. Aim to get up and move every hour for a few minutes.
6. Exercise early and often. By starting off your morning or day with exercise, you can stay mentally and physically strong, active and sharp all day long. If you’re not able to hit the gym or the trails in the morning, doing even 10 minutes of exercise in the evenings does wonders. But exercising too close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep, so try to finish your workout two to three hours before you head to sleep.
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7. Stay optimistic – and vigilant! If you’re experiencing aches and pain, don’t stress that it’s a sign of underlying health issues or aging. Instead, think of it as a sign you need to change something about what you’re doing, whether it’s your workout routine or your lifestyle. Keep a regular journal, stay current on best health practices, share your favorite tips with friends and family and set goals for yourself.
©Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2017