How often have I heard that from a senior as he or she slowly manoevers onto the treatment table! Older people often complain of pain stopping them from doing simple things, and often these are in several areas: hands, hips, the outsides of the thighs, shoulders… The widespread symptoms can be confusing & demoralizing. Advice to take it easier, or stop doing something altogether can be frustrating to someone who wants to stay active.
The solution is..?
Strength training. This can start off without weight bearing (e.g. squeezing rubber balls to improve grip strength, or lying on the floor to do hip and leg exercises) and then move to the pool or cross trainer.
There will still be some discomfort with strength training, & results won’t be immediate, but as long as the regime is gradual rather than boot-camp style, the soreness will just be what everyone normally experiences when they’ve had a good workout.
Put aside the arthritis for a moment
You can take it for granted they’re going to have some arthritis because that’s just the cost of living – literally!! But arthritis is often symptomless, & avoiding exercise for fear of wearing out the joints or being sore more isn’t going to help. Quite the opposite, in fact.
This is because a significant portion of soreness in the elderly is often from tendons. These come under more tension from tight muscles. Imagine knotting a rubber band in the middle, like a tight muscle, and the effect that has on the length and on how much you can stretch it. The essential fact is that as we lose muscle bulk with age, a weakened muscle tires and tightens more easily.
So if Gran has lost some muscle strength, then she may notice that she’s developed a pain doing something she’s always done without any problem before.
P.S. Just to be clear, I’m not talking about a joint where the cartilage is badly damaged or worn out, or it’s bone on bone. That’s surgical territory & is beyond the help of exercise or manual therapy.