Often in my practice I encounter the phrase, “It’s because I’m getting older.” Creaky knees, back tweaks every time you shovel, an inability to get comfortable no matter how you sit: we hold these up as proof we cannot escape the ravages of time. The body does change as we age; a reality we can’t deny. But there are ways to prevent, mitigate, and even correct pain patterns appearing in the later phases of our lives.
Newton was correct about more than just physics. A HUMAN body in motion will also stay in motion. If we want our bodies to continue to work well, we must use them on a daily basis.
Gyrokinesis, a practice with many similarities to yoga, combines movement with breath to calm the nervous system.Accessible to various levels, ages, and abilities, it can be done with minimal equipment. Increasing body awareness in space, gyrokinesis maintains a strong focus on working through the spine, lengthening it through rhythmic movements.
Postural Corrective Exercises are also useful tools as we age. We spend time sitting or standing without support, and our low back sags and aches. Our heads tilt forward from computer use or long commutes. Over time these positions become our daily stances, which aggravates the pain issues accompanying them. Learning which muscles to strengthen and which to stretch, as well as simple movements supporting healthy posture patterns, can be of great benefit to a body in need of a little correction.
The Egoscue method is a good postural exercise option, or you can just ask your neighborhood sports medicine acupuncturist!The important part is to keep moving and accept that you may need to learn new ways of moving, adding strategies to your daily workouts to accommodate the way your body changes with age.
Sometimes we let aches and pains stay around too long before we try to correct them, and we need help getting back to our baseline. One newer option for spinal health is Atlas Orthogonal chiropractic. Atlas Orthogonal work focuses on the balance between your top vertebrae and the base of your skull. Every vertebrae in your spine connects to the piece above and below it. If the very first piece is off at the top, the effects can be felt all the way down. This specialized approach can aid chronic hip and low back issues, alleviate headaches, increase proper circulation to the face, and sometimes reduce blood pressure.
Another specialty to consider is orthopedic or sports medicine acupuncture. These practitioners go through additional training to be able to assess and treat musculoskeletal imbalances, injuries, and the effects of those chronic postural issues. Often well versed in accompanying manual therapies (massage, fascial therapies, and cupping), they provide a view of how the entire body works together while also addressing your overall wellness.
We continue to learn more about how strongly our emotional lives, our experiences, and our bodies entwine. Whether it’s an old accident, an emotional wound, or a shocking event, we can store those experiences in our bodies as well as our minds. The resulting tension can cause very real physical pain.
Different types of breathwork have been emerging to help with this. It’s becoming quite a broad field, ranging from simple box breathing for general anxiety to a Qi Gong practice called “Huff and Puff,” used to help release stored emotions. Meditation practices also help in this way, emphasizing nose breathing and slower breaths, both which tend to calm the nervous system. Working with the breath can free old tensions held in the body, but they can also benefit us if we use them when an emotionally disturbing event occurs. If we can steer towards balance in the moment, we can reduce how much that event affects us down the line.
Quantum Neuro Reset Therapy (QNRT) is an option when an experience becomes embedded in our nervous systems, affecting our behaviors, our mood, or our health. It works to reset the brain to produce healthier responses to certain stimuli, recalibrating patterns ingrained when we undergo specific stresses or adverse life events. I think of it as a wacky cousin to Brainspotting or EMDR. They can all be helpful when trying to clear subconscious hurdles to our health.
Many options in movement, treatment, and mental health strategies can help us age without the assumption of accepting all pain coming our way. It may take a little experimentation, but it’s worth the effort to stay healthy and mobile through our later chapters.
Roisin is a licensed acupuncturist and massage therapist with a strong interest in both sports medicine and the body-spirit connection. Her decade spent as a competitive swimmer and her strong science background keep her fascinated with the workings of the human body while her personal health journey solidified her conviction that when the body is in its best balance, so are the heart and mind. You can find her at JADA Studios in Minneapolis for all your active (or not-so active) body’s needs!