Almost all of us experience pain in our joints and muscles at some point in time, with levels ranging from acute to chronic pain. When feeling acute pain, this is our body sending warning signals to change what we are doing, or more serious problems will manifest, such as chronic pain or injury. But how do we know how or why we are feeling such pain?
The answer usually lies in the way we move and lifestyle factors playing havoc with our musculoskeletal system. Factors include (but are not limited to) our posture, moods, nutrition, job, daily activities and how we are moving in general. These factors produce imbalances in the body such as muscle weakness or tightness from either over activation or inactivation of muscle groups.
Not surprisingly, the best medicine for these problems is exercise. Knowing what muscles need to be strengthened and what joints need to be stabilised can go a long way towards reducing your risk of producing acute or chronic pain or injury – and prevention is key. Exercising on a weekly basis with the goal of increasing muscle strength and joint stability will remove the chances of pain becoming a real problem in your life and finding the right exercise professional can accelerate your progression and is important to assist your journey by identifying which factors could be contributing to your pain.
Posture: Common problems I see in my clients are shoulders rounded forward, spinal rounding and exaggerated pelvic tilts. With these postural imbalances comes joint and muscle pain. Over time this can cause wear and tear and result in arthritis, ligament tears, tendonitis, muscle tears or sprains. Maintaining correct posture is critical to sustaining functionality over the course of our lives.
Moods: There is a growing body of knowledge suggesting the body holds memories and feelings in the musculoskeletal system. Meaning if you are feeling heart broken, for example, the posture of our bodies may resemble forward rounded shoulders, inward rotation of the arms and the cervical spine displaying kyphosis. This is just an example, but it is interesting to see how our moods can change posture and therefore lead to muscle and joint pains. Understanding how the subconscious mind can manifest into the physical body is an interesting study, and if you are looking to know more, there are many books relating to the subconscious mind and body relationship available.
Nutrition: It’s not a normal consideration when looking at musculoskeletal and joint pain to look into what you are eating, but the bodies ability to break down inflammation, heal possible injuries and general day-to-day recovery depends very much on what you are putting in. Eating right for recovery and allowing the body to function optimally is important for reducing pain. Foods “warning signs” include a high consumption of meats, processed foods, sugary foods and even vegetables that have been exposed to high levels of pesticides. Organic whole fruit and vegetables should be a foundation to your dietary intake - all foods which allow your body to buffer the pH levels in your body and maintain healthy bodily function. Eating a large variety of fruit and vegetables, minimal meat and processed foods will give your body the best chance to thrive.
Job, daily activities and general movement: Our day-to-day life takes us, at times, into repetitive movements that are awkward and functionally bad positions for our bodies. Whether it's being slumped over an office desk working on a computer typing all day or digging holes, if the correct movement patterns and posture isn't maintained during these activities we increase the likelihood of developing musculoskeletal pain. Repetitive movements in our jobs can also lead to excess wear and tear although doing these movements correctly goes a long way towards sustaining structural integrity. Another way to mitigate these potential problems is to regularly participate in exercises designed to level out the imbalances created from our jobs and daily activities.
If you’re feeling aches and pains in your body, perhaps a fitness program personalised just for you and taking into account your unique life factors could change your life and help you become pain-free.