Age is just a number
It is a real cliché to say that age is just a number, but very often a cliché becomes a such because it is an obvious but often forgotten truth.
If age were responsible for your painful right knee, wouldn’t it be fair to expect an equal amount of pain in your left knee?
Or if age was to blame for back pain, wouldn’t everybody of a certain age have back pain? And what age would that be?
The obvious absurdity of expecting everybody of a particular number of years to have exactly the same aches and pains underlines a key message when it comes to discomfort and aging. The number of years we have existed on this planet is not a key determinant of how much pain we experience.
In addition to the common sense conclusion above, research also demonstrates this. Epidemiological studies, assessing at what age back pain is most common, report back pain to be most prevalent between the ages of 45 and 55.
An important point to emphasise here is that it is not the age of your body that determines the likelihood of your experiencing pain, but a combination of the condition of your body and the demands that you place on it.
The greater your demands, the better your conditioning needs to be. But that is not to say that we should keep the demand on our body to a minimum.
If you are entirely sedentary, the muscles that protect your joints will decondition and normal tasks like walking up stairs or getting out of a chair begin to become difficult and often painful.
With a little TLC it is possible to keep our bodies in great condition, allowing us to stay active throughout all stages of life.
We often advise patients to avoid maintaining their fitness/condition, but instead to always try to progress. If you set out to maintain, small derailments, caused by holidays, family and work circumstances, illness and so on, will keep knocking you off course. These little blips lead to a slow decline.
Whereas, if you are always aiming to progress your strength, flexibility, fitness etc, small derailments might knock you back, but only to the level you were at a few weeks ago. By the time the next blip occurs, you have recovered the lost ground and hopefully a little extra to spare, meaning that over time you maintain your fitness rather than lose it.
This progressive approach is of benefit no matter what your age.