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Posted on 06-20-2016

We often hear the old adage from people in pain or in poor health that “Old Age” is simply catching up with them.  “Old Age” often seems like a simple and logical explanation for many of our health issues, but is it really age finally catching up to us?

 While there are a variety of factors that contribute to the aging process, let’s look at two of the most common. 

The first factor that contributes to our aging is the cumulative effects of the physical stresses our body has dealt with over the years.  Improper biomechanical positioning of the body due to bad posture habits, de-conditioned supporting muscles due to lack of exercise, repetitive motions at work and in sports, and poor sleep positioning all cause an acceleration of the breakdown we often see in the joints and tissues of the body and eventually contribute to pain and dysfunction.  Add to this the often normal and proper adaptations our body must make following a trauma or injury.  Over the years, these seemingly small and insignificant falls, traumas, sport injuries and accidents force the body to adapt and compensate.  In the short term, this is not only normal, it’s healthy and necessary to protect and allow the body to heal.  However, if the body is not given the right care to bring back proper balance and alignment to the joints and tissues the cumulative effect of these injuries and traumas cause de-conditioning of the supporting soft tissues as well as cause the build-up of dense and less flexible scar tissue to form both of which result in stiffness, joint pain, osteoarthritis, joint instability and balance issues.

Some years ago I watched an interesting movie called “What’s eating Gilbert Grape?” about a young man coping with his life situation which included caring for his significantly obese mother.   In one particular scene in the movie the family is seen driving down the road in a smaller car with the mother riding in the passenger seat.  A view of the car from the back revealed a significant shift of weight to one side as a result of her sitting in the car which caused the obviously amusing awkward slant of the car as it drove down the road.  The likely result of this significant shift of weight inside the car over time seems obvious to most observers.  The tires, shocks and suspension all would likely suffer a quicker break down on the passenger side over time.  To keep this from happening, the fix also seems fairly simple… get the overweight mom out of the car to balance the weight back out.  Interestingly enough, the same thing can happen in our body.  When our body is not balanced side to side and front to back, our joints will eventually wear down due to the effects of uneven stresses.  The fix is also fairly simple…bring the body back to a balanced position.  Positioning and balance are two important keys to slowing the aging process of our joints and tissues.

The second factor to look at with regards to aging is nutrition and lifestyle.  Chronologically we all age at the same rate each day.  However, research is now showing that we don’t all age physiologically at the same rate.   For instance, studies of tissues and cells show that people who ate a diet highest in red meat tested between 3-4 years older than those who ate a diet low in red meat.  When studying people who smoke, the studies showed the tissues and cells tested 2 years older than those of non-smokers.  Exercise also contributed in a positive way showing the tissues and cells tested 4-5 years younger in people who regularly exercised.

So, before we blame “Old Age” for our aches, pains and poor health, we must remember that the choices we make each day in how we care for and treat our body matters much more than the chronological number we claim as our age.  

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