Ditch the Aching Excuse: Common Exercise Pains and Tips for Recovery

There are plenty of excuses not to exercise. Unlike most excuses, aches and pains are a totally valid reason to take it easy – but they aren’t a reason to stop completely.  The benefits of exercise far outweigh the risk of aching joints, pulled muscles, strains and sprains. Not only can it lower your blood pressure,  improve your heart health, and help you maintain a healthy weight, but it also reduces your risk of stroke and provides tons of other health benefits.

Here are a few common aches and pains, and tips for returning back to exercise safely – and without significant delay.

Back Pain

Problem: Our backs take a life-time of beating between poor posture and body mechanics. As we age, many of us develop degenerative disc disease and narrowing of our spinal canal.

Solution: Slow and steady is the way to go. Physical therapists can design an exercise program to strengthen and stretch the muscles in your back and abdomen. They can also instruct you in proper body mechanics and posture.

Knee Pain

Problem: Knee injuries are very common as well. The knee is not a very stable joint as it bears much of the body’s weight. If the position of the knee is not perfectly aligned during exercise, it can cause patellar femoral problems – a fancy way of saying knee pain. “Runner’s knee” is a very common source of knee pain. It is caused by compressive forces of running and also malalignment of the thigh and knee joint.

Solution: Approximately 95% of people with knee pain can be treated with a conservative approach. Supportive sneakers with good arches are very important for shock absorption. You may also need orthotics or arch supports to keep the foot in a neutral position. If physical therapy is warranted, after careful evaluation, the therapist may choose exercises that strengthen the muscles around the knee joint. These could include straight leg raises, short-arch knee extension, and standing squats. Other options could include biofeedback, electrical stimulation or bracing.

Shoulder Pain

Problem: Another mobile, but unstable joint is the shoulder. The shoulder allows for movement in multiple directions and planes, making  it is susceptible to injury and dislocation. Age-related changes occur in the shoulder such as decreased blood supply to the rotator cuff muscles, impingement due to poor posture and arthritic changes.

Solution: A thorough evaluation of the shoulder joint is required to determine what’s wrong. Treatment could include strengthening the shoulder’s internal and external rotators, stretching, ultrasound, rest or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication.

Of course, with any injury, you should always consult your physician before returning to your normal routine. Don’t let these common injuries keep you from the exercise you need – your body will thank you for it!

What other common aches and pains prevent you from exercise? More tips are on the way!

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