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Full Speed Ahead, Use Medications As Needed, Eat Healthy, Stay Healthy

Contributed by, Jenni Simms, 02/07/2014

Note: before taking any medication or participating in any exercise routines published on this website, or associated websites, consult your medical advisor or training consultant.

Aches, Pains, & Creaking Bones: Staying Pain-Free Post Retirement

One of the things everyone hates about aging are those nagging aches and pains which seem to plague us. Sometimes they build up slowly - a tense muscle in our back which won’t go away, the slow realisation that walking for too long will leave us with what feel like jelly candy legs for two days afterwards - and sometimes they strike suddenly, like lifting a ball for your last strike of the night and realising that your back has decided to stop working properly. Centuries ago we might not have lived to see forty, but now we’re charging on full speed ahead, and science is racing to keep us fit, healthy, and pain-free for decades past retirement age. While there are some pains we just learn to live with, there are ways to make sure that we’re as active and happy as we can be, for as long as we want to be.

Full Speed Ahead

The primary advice given by both scientists and doctors is simple: if you want to be active, stay active (1). This doesn’t mean winning gold medals at the Olympics; everyone has their own level of optimal physical exercise, but the important thing is to keep going strong. The more we let ourselves relax away from exercising, the more difficult it is to get back in the saddle. Obviously, the best answer is to combine exercise with something we love to do - like bowling! It’s important not to injure ourselves, and to accommodate our changing abilities and needs, but these things can be simple: dropping our ball weight, adding finger holes, or experimenting with different cover stocks and cores can all help us to maintain our game long into our golden years (2). Bowling is also a quality exercise, particularly when we include stretching. Stretching is useful for two reasons (3): not only does it help us to relax tight muscles and reduce the risk of injury, but it also helps us keep our current range of movement when done regularly. There are specific stretches which are useful for bowlers (4), or your doctor can recommend some specifically for you (5). They key is staying consistent, which of course is much easier to achieve when you’re doing it as part of something you love.

Use Medications As Needed

Painkillers are incredibly useful when we’re suffering through chronic aches, not to mention all those little pains which come and go (but make our life difficult when they’ve come around again). Many people past retirement age regularly take at least one painkiller regularly, whether over-the-counter or prescribed; don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor or ask for a referral to a pain clinic if you feel like painkillers could improve your life. However, if you do take painkillers, it’s important to keep a close eye on whether you feel addicted to or even dependent on them. There has been a sharp spike in the number of people 55 and older who are in treatment for their addiction to painkillers, and it is surprisingly easy to join their ranks (6). Opiate painkillers such as oxycodone are particularly addictive (7), even when used as directed, so stay aware of how you feel with and without your prescriptions, and talking to your GP if you find yourself concerned with how you use them.

Eat Healthy, Stay Healthy

One of the reasons pain appears as we age is that our bodies are beginning to break down, to creak a little like good, worn leather. The best way of combatting this is to make sure our bodies have plenty of material to repair these problems with - however, depending on our diets and our problems, simply eating right (8) may not be enough. Supplements can be snake oil at times, but others have been found to be useful for pain management. Glucosamine (9) has been found to relieve arthritis pain, for instance, and Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects. Talk to your doctor about any supplements you wish to take, as they may interact with your medication, and remember that there can be side effects; with that said, it is well worth the effort if you find they help you stay active, healthy, and pain-free.