We typically think of the loss of mobility as a problem for older people. What may surprise you is the young ages of some people I see who have lost a lot of their mobility. Some are under fifty years old, a few are under forty. Our lifestyles are becoming more and more sedentary, which leads to higher weight gain, less energy, and stiff muscles. You can rust up at any age.
I have worked with many young high school athletes who complained of back pain, hip pain, knee pain, or shoulder pain. They were stiffer than most people over seventy! They were lifting weights for their sport and were very strong. The problem was, they were doing traditional stretching and reaching a point where bending over to tie their shoes was painful. Standing for long periods of time was painful. Can you imagine a person under eighteen having these issues? Even though they were young, their bodies had rusted up and it affected their mobility. It is not just a problem for older people. The long-term effects of improper stretching can be devastating for young people
What Causes Loss of Mobility and Stiffness?
There are several reasons for being stiff. Lack of movement is the obvious answer, but diet and lifestyle play the biggest roles. The best part is it is all under your control regardless of your age. Most Americans eat a highly inflammatory diet, sit most of the day, and overeat. We want convenience, cheap food, and we want it now. This is a recipe for disaster which has a direct link to loss of mobility.
Most food that is fast and cheap, at drive-thrus, is usually highly inflammatory food. This raises inflammation in your joints, around your heart, and around your brain. This inflammation can lead to osteoarthritis, heart disease, and dementia. It’s not a good place to be at any age. Try shopping at a local farmers’ market and learn about vegetables. Most farmers will be excited to educate you about the food they grow. Take it home and cook it. Yes, it takes a little longer before you can eat it, but it will taste so good. If you do not know how to cook, check out cooking videos on YouTube. You will learn that cooking isn’t that hard. If you cook with a spouse or friend, it can be a fun time. Bad food can cause so many problems for our bodies including loss of mobility or stiffness of joints. while good food can actually heal our bodies.
Choosing some inconvenience versus constant convenience is good for your body, too. Choose to walk to what you want versus just driving as close as possible. The better you eat and the more you move, the healthier you will be–and that can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars later in life. There is a famous quote about health, “We spend our youth sacrificing our health for wealth, then spend our old age sacrificing our wealth for our health.” Too many times our poor health outlasts our wealth and that is a terrible place to be when we are old.
How to Solve the Problem of Loss of Mobility
The worst advice anyone can give these days is “Diet and Exercise.” To most people, exercise means going to the gym, which is not what I am talking about here. You do not need to train like an Olympic athlete. All we want to focus on is movement. If you can walk up stairways, choose the stairs versus the elevator. Of course, if you are in a 20-50 story building that would be ridiculous, but if we are talking about 2-3 flights of stairs and you can do it, then do it. This is a great choice for people young and old. Stair climbing is great for the heart and the front of your thighs, the quads.
Simple Movement Like Walking
If you cannot climb stairs, do not worry. Walk around your house. Start on the inside and work your way to the outside. When I weighed 315 lbs. I began walking inside a one-bedroom apartment. I was only 36 years old but felt like I was a hundred. After a few weeks, I moved to the outside of my building. A few months later I ventured out to walking around the block. Before I knew it I was walking miles every day. But don’t try to do too much too fast and always check with your doctor to be sure it is safe for you to walk.
When you go to the store, park as far away as you can and walk to the door. Even if you park only halfway into the parking lot versus up next to the door has benefits. Some people believe that walking their dog is good walking. I hate to burst your bubble, but it really isn’t great because dogs love to stop and sniff. This means you are not walking. You may want to stop and speak to a neighbor. Again, you are not walking. A few people run with their dogs, and they are getting exercise as the dogs keep moving so they will too.
Do not worry about the pace at first. Walk at a pace that you feel yourself exerting more energy, but don’t overdo it. If you are older, like over fifty, remember you are not eighteen and you cannot do what you did at eighteen. Be smart and gradually build yourself up to a faster pace.
The Problem with DIET
‘Diet’ is another word we health coaches no longer use. People prefer to hear about nutrition, not about diet. It makes sense in that no one ‘diet’ fits everyone. You must work a little here to figure out what foods your body reacts the best with. I am not talking about taste, but health-wise. Eat food that is good for YOUR body. If you are eating vegetables, start trying different types of vegetables so you can find some you like. Try different fruits as well. Yes, there is sugar in fruit, but the fiber in the fruit makes it a worthwhile food for your body. Fruit and vegetables should be the bulk of your diet. This doesn’t mean you need to be a vegetarian.
I have lost a lot of weight–twice. Once I lost 105 lbs. in 18 months. In 2020, I lost 25 lbs. in 90 days. I will share with you what I did in each case, but that does not mean if you do the same thing, you will get the same result. My ‘diet’ consisted of 10% simple carbs like breads, pasta, white rice, and white potatoes; 20% clean, healthy meat; and 70% mostly organic fruit and vegetables. I work out 3 times a week and walk nearly every day, either around my neighborhood or at work during my lunch break. It is always hard when you begin, but as you see the weight come off, energy levels rise, and overall a better feeling about yourself, it will become easy.
Tips to Improve your Stretching and Increase Mobility
Here’s where we can all make a difference and stave off the loss of mobility and ease stiff joints with stretching. All you need is a yoga strap and a tennis ball for the tennis ball massage. Give yourself about 15 minutes twice a day and you should see better results within 2 weeks. This, though, is a lifetime event. Think of your pet. they stretch every day and several times a day. Stretch when they stretch. Follow the videos below and free your knees. In my opinion, the calf stretch is the most important stretch a human can do. It will solve many issues of the body.
Stretching is more about feeling the muscles letting go than forcing them to stretch. If you are forcing the muscle, you could be doing strength training, not stretching. Make sure you are feeling the intended muscle stretching. If not, the form could be wrong. Holding for 5 seconds allows the brain to release the muscle before it senses any danger. Repeating the stretches 10 times allows the brain to learn it is safe for the muscle to move that way.
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About The Muscle Repair Shop
Drawing upon his personal experience as a former competitive athlete turned wheelchair, obese, and chronic pain sufferer, Muscle Repair Shop founder Butch Phelps decided to take his health into his own hands when at the age of 36 he was told he might not make it to his 40th birthday. Applying balanced nutrition advice from his doctor along with a sound exercise program, he went from 315 lbs. to 180 lbs. Motivated by his experience, he then acquired degrees in advanced therapeutic massage and aging sciences to help people eliminate chronic pain. This included applying his expertise in how people age, including the effects of dementia, anatomy, psychology, and the day-to-day struggles living as an older person to his practice and development of The Muscle Repair Shop’s one-of-a-kind Stretch n’ Release Technique.
Available through in-office and virtual coaching treatment sessions, this unique combination of stretching and breath work teaches the brain to release the emotional side of muscle tension and pain allows clients to find lasting relief and healing from stiffness, aches, injuries, and chronic pain. The at-home exercises come with customized instructional videos and virtual or in-office support, allowing clients to enjoy and experience life and sports as they did before limitations slowed or curtailed activities.