Moving our bodies in a way that allows us to confidently perform daily tasks is a skill we take for granted in our youth. As we age, however, our bodies change and some of the most ordinary activities can begin to trip us up. Activities like bending over, sitting for too long, getting out of bed, climbing a flight of stairs or reaching for something above our head suddenly becomes a source of acute pain or irritation. This loss of mobility comes on quickly. After the age of 40, muscle mass declines at a startling rate of 1.5% to 5% each year! Decreased cognitive function along with diminishing vision and hearing can also contribute to a lack of balance, coordination and spatial awareness, which puts us at higher risk for injury and falling. When we become less active, our joints begin to stiffen and mobility becomes more difficult. The axiom “use it or lose it” becomes a life motto. So, do we simply resign ourselves to a life of pain medication and walking aids to function? Absolutely not! There are many ways we can proactively maintain healthy mobility in every stage of life.
Experts have maintained for years that regular exercise is the single most important thing you can do to maintain mobility as you age. So how much exercise do you need? 150 to 300 minutes of moderate exercise a week is recommended for healthy adults by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That’s only about 20-40 minutes per day. So, which exercises are best for increasing mobility? Any exercise that gets your body moving and blood flowing will do. Walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or even vacuuming or pushing a lawn mower count as exercise. Try a variety of exercises over the course of the week, and for added benefit, include some muscle-strengthening activities on at least two of your exercise days.
Stretching is also key to improving and maintaining mobility as we get older. Research has shown that regular stretching helps joints move through their full range of motion, which allows for an increase in blood flow to muscles. This will decrease the risk of injury and allow for easier performance of daily activities. The important thing to remember with stretching is consistency and focus on a wide range of muscle groups. A well-rounded stretching routine will include exercises that stretch your calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders. And don’t forget to stretch both sides! Here’s a great list of stretches to get started.
The natural decline in mobility as we age can often put unnecessary stress on different parts of our body. This can lead to inflammation, pain, and misalignment of our spine. This is why chiropractic care is also an important step in helping improve mobility. Chiropractors have many tools to help assess range of motion in patients. A proper chiropractic examination should lead to a variety of possible strategies for mobility improvement, whether it be specific muscle stretches, targeted exercises or a spinal readjustment. Proper alignment of your spine will allow joints and muscles to function at the highest compacity without difficulty or pain.
At Legacy Health Chiropractic, our comprehensive chiropractic exams go beyond merely treating discomfort. We employ advanced techniques to accurately identify and address problem areas. Through a thorough nerve scan and X-ray, we can pinpoint the exact sources of pain and detect any hidden stress on the back. These diagnostic tools also serve as a baseline, allowing us to track the progress of your spinal care. After 12 to 15 visits, we will reevaluate your progress and visually demonstrate the improvements in your spinal health.
Being proactive in improving and maintaining mobility is so important especially as we grow older. Exercise, stretching and regular visits to your chiropractor are all ways to help ensure that your joints are working properly. Intentionally moving your body gives you assurance that you can perform daily tasks with confidence and ease. The great news is that as your mobility improves, you may also benefit from other positive side effects such as improved circulation, increased energy level, muscular coordination, injury prevention, improved balance, posture and stress relief. So, do not wait! Take the necessary steps and enjoy the benefits of a healthy and mobile life!