Dr Joseph Tieri, DO
The most common source of joint pain and problems is tension in the soft tissues of the body—the muscles, tendons, and ligaments—which act to align, stabilize, and move your joints. Not only can tension in these structures create problems for the joints, but also leads to strained and painful muscles, compressed and irritated nerves, low energy and a depressed mood.
While tension in the soft-tissues can occur from falls and other traumas, the most common source in adults is the accumulated stress from poor posture—a result of our modern work and play habits, that molds and shapes our bodies in several ways:
- Stationing our arms out in front of us—as when reaching forward to meet steering wheels, computer keyboards, cellphones, and cookware on the stove—slowly rounds the shoulders and brings the head forward, setting the stage for upper back, shoulder, and neck pain, and headaches.
- Sitting too much—in chairs, cars, and on couches—made possible by sedentary jobs, drive-up windows, and remote controls, leads to tight and weak core muscles and sets the stage for chronic lower back and hip pain.
- Rotating the legs and feet (mostly outward)—while driving, when crossing the legs at the ankles sitting or lying down, and when taking short, shuffling strides, during walking, misaligns the lower limbs, leading to foot, knee, and hip pain.
Whether from these, or the many other ways that the body accumulates tension, at some point the forgiving nature of youth segues into the chronic joint pains and problems of the older adult body.
Fortunately, there is a simple way to address this process. As outlined in my book End Everyday Pain, A 10-Minute-a-Day program of Stretching, Strengthening, and Movement to Break the Grip of pain, a combination of 3 tools can successfully reverse the downward spiral of strain and pain, return healthy functioning to the joints (even those with arthritis, and other orthopedic diagnoses), and dramatically improve the quality of life. Not dissimilar to the proper care of the teeth and gums (consisting of daily brushing and flossing, good habits, and regular checkups), dedicating 10 minutes a day of targeted exercise—stretching and strengthening to improve posture—making a few habit changes—like adjusting reading and TV watching positions, and modifying pillow heights—and occasional visits to a hands-on practitioner—osteopaths, massage therapists, and physical therapists—can help you as it has for thousands of my patients and readers.
It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to turn things around. With the right approach, you can keep your body loose, happy, and healthy, long into your senior years—without the need for pain-relievers, injections, and replacement surgeries.
To your health!