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CSA Physio Blog

How a body should live: Part 1

Posted on: January 24th, 2018 by Jeffrey Begg
Jeffrey Begg

PT (Physiotherapist)
In practice since 1997, Jeffrey is Edmonton’s first Clinical Specialist in Musculoskeletal physiotherapy. He is a certified manipulative physiotherapist with an interest in traumatic as well as chronic spinal injuries, hip pain, dizziness/vertigo, arthritis care, and athletic injuries. He has also developed the Seniors Fitness Test, unique to CSA, as a way of helping the over-60 crowd to measure their fitness and find ways to maintain it. Book with Jeff now.


Lately, I’ve come up with a simple bit of advice for how I think a body should live, based on 20 years in my profession watching people do it well, and often not so well.

So, you want to live an active, healthy life? Welcome to the club. It doesn’t just happen by chance though.  Here’s my advice.

From birth to 40 the thing is to have fun. From 40 to 60, preserve your joints. After 60, don’t fall.  It’s that simple, and yet can be so hard to follow.  Let’s talk a bit about each stage of our lifespan.

Birth to 40:  Have Fun

This is the age where life can be easiest, from a physical standpoint anyway. Most of us are relatively healthy through this time, maybe dealing with a few sprains, strains or even a broken bone or two.

What should drive you during this point in your life? Have fun. It’s as simple as that. Say you have a choice; to be sitting on the sofa or going snowshoeing. Grab the snowshoes, get outside and have fun!

Someone asks you to join a Monday night volleyball league, but that’s the night of your favorite Netflix series?  Well listen, go buy some volleyball shoes and get out there and have fun.

Got a chance to join the track team and learn how to high jump?  Say yes!  If you always choose the things that get you out and get you active, you’ll enjoy your life more and you’ll be physically healthier.

It’s that simple, and let’s not dwell on it, because most of us find this relatively easy.  In fact, the vast majority of people I see are in the next phase of life:

40 to 60:  Preserve your joints

From age 40 60, your focus should shift a little. Hey, don’t stop having fun, but add an extra layer of thought into your life: preserve your joints.

We can’t do the things at 45 that we did at 25. Sorry folks, that’s not giving up, that’s reality.

Here’s how I made that change myself:  I ride a unicycle. I ride it like a mountain bike, single track, dirt trails, down steep hills. At 30, I could careen off that thing into a dive roll across the forest floor and pop back up with a smile. At 40, not so much.

The thing is, I love riding and I won’t give it up. But I definitely ride differently now than I did 15 years ago: now it’s flat trails, steep but safe uphills, long endurance rides.

And when my sore hip flares up, I see my partner to get going on some rehab to settle it down again.   And that’s what you should do too – change how you play to suit what your joints can take.  And then get in for rehab when a problem is lingering.

Think of what you do for physical health, and make sure you preserve your joints as you do it.

Let’s say you’re 48, and your friend asks you to come to the trampoline park for her son’s birthday. Fine, but stay off the trampolines!  That’s really hard on your joints.  Be smart.

How about when your daughter’s baseball team is having a fun game, players versus parents? Fine, but if you aren’t used to running those bases, then run half speed, and be real careful when you round second, because that’s how knees and ankles get blown out.

Going canoeing for the day, but you haven’t paddled in a year?  Go easy so you don’t blow your shoulder out.  A major joint injury at this age can result in chronic problems and perhaps early-onset arthritis later, so be smart and preserve your joints.

And get that rehab going when it’s not settling on its own.  That takes a little forethought and a change in expectations, but if you do it right, you’ll get 30 or 40 more years out of those joints.

Jeff

PS. For more info, see Part 2.

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