man checking elderly man's stiffness

Getting Stiff as You Age? Exercise Can Help

Though no one can reverse the aging process, research shows that keeping active is an important way to retain mobility, strength, and stability. While the stiffness and pain associated with aging may make it tempting to rest more and exercise less, moving will actually help to relieve these symptoms.

When stiffness and pain make exercise unpleasant or impossible, it’s time to contact Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine. Our skilled physiatrists specialize in relieving pain and restoring function. No matter what your age, we have numerous therapies to help you get up and moving,

How Aging Affects Mobility

As skeletal muscles age, there is an inevitable loss of muscle mass and strength (known as sarcopenia) and a slowdown in our natural ability to regenerate tissues. Our joints, the connections between our bones that make movement possible, are normally assisted by cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and synovial fluid (that lessens friction between connected bones), but all of these body parts are affected by the aging process.

Bone density decreases, muscles weaken, cartilage wears, and synovial fluid decreases — all of which contribute to stiffness and inflexibility. These changes may also lead to joint disorders, such as osteoarthritis, sprains, strains, bursitis, and tendonitis.

How Our Doctors Can Help

If you are suffering from one of the above conditions or some undiagnosed musculoskeletal problem, Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine is the place to come. We are a holistic, nonsurgical practice, offering a broad range of therapeutic options, both traditional and complementary, that can help you recover and learn how to exercise in ways that will keep you healthy and mobile. These treatments include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP)
  • Customized physical therapy, including electrical stimulation
  • Corticosteroid injections to relieve pain and inflammation directly at the source
  • PEMF (Pulsed Electromagnetic Field) therapy
  • Fluoroscopy-guided facet injections to relieve back pain

Depending on your particular needs and preferences, we offer many options. Our treatments, often used in combination for more rapid and effective results, are designed to reduce pain and inflammation, increase blood flow to the injured area, and restore range of motion. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), exercising is also helpful in addressing stiffness and pain.

Exercise can not only prevent many age-related changes to muscles, bones, and joints but also, to a degree, reverse degeneration. Exercise can make bones stronger and help slow the rate of bone loss at any age so it’s never too late to begin a program of exercise.

Why It’s Hard to Get Started

Though a small percentage of older individuals still golf, play tennis, or do some other aerobic activity, nearly half report doing no exercise at all. The longer you live a sedentary lifestyle, the harder it is to get up and move since your stiffness and pain are likely to increase as you remain inactive.

Also, whether or not you’ve suffered an injury in recent years, you may be reluctant to exercise for fear of being hurt or even disabled. Nonetheless, if you take steps to move more, your bones will increase in density and your joints will be more lubricated. In other words, moving will become easier and your balance and stability will improve, making hurting yourself less likely.

The Best Types of Exercise to Begin as a Senior

Even though exercise is a good idea, you should begin slowly. In other words, playing football or taking up broad jumping is unwise. Instead, pick an activity you find pleasant, one that suits your present physical condition. Proven activities for people in your age group include:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Strength training with instruction and/or supervision
  • Neuromuscular training
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Aquatic exercise

Contact Our Experienced Musculoskeletal Specialists Today

At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, our doctors can evaluate the specific reasons for your stiffness or pain in particular regions of your body, treat any injuries or conditions you may have, and guide you to an exercise program that will best address your concerns. Contact us now to improve your health, your quality of life, and your general outlook.