Do you ever get up in the morning and moan? Pain is a way of life and you should expect to have aches and pain as you get older. Right? After all everyone talks about it. “It's hell to grow old.” “And they call these the Golden years?” I hear it all the time. People come to physical therapy with pain in their back or knee that has been getting worse for many years. When I ask them why they waited so long to see a physical therapist inevitably they tell me they thought it was just part of growing older.

Today I was driving into my local shopping center and saw a man walking. I think you could call it walking. Both knees were bent at least 30 degrees and his hips were bent 45 degrees. To top it off his upper back had a severe curve forward. Why, oh why did this man let himself get like this? Did he really think that this was just part of growing old or did he not know that he was truly like this? Even more frightening is the thought that he probably went to see his physician while looking like this. Why doesn't someone help this person? He is only a couple of years from needing a wheelchair. He has to be in so much pain. I tell people that if every person their age has the same pain, then it is part of growing old. Otherwise, it is probably not related to their age. It is related to loss of balance in their body. This happens over time and like the man I mentioned, can get very bad and very painful.

Why does this happen? We start out looking pretty balanced as we enter into adulthood. Lets go way back to birth. We are all cute and cuddly. Then a couple of months go by and we start to move more, learning how to roll over and sit up. As our muscles develop enough by our early activities, we then challenge ourselves to get up on all fours. Through this progression, we develop our muscles AND the stability in our trunk to allow us to stand and then to walk. What an amazing progression and most of us don't even know there is a rhyme and reason to it.

When I was a child, most of the kids in the neighborhood left the house in the morning when there was no school. We seldom stopped or came indoors until our parents stepped out the front door and yelled our names at the top of their lungs. (That was how communication was in the pre-cell phone era.) If it was warm out, we would be outside playing a game of chicken against each other on our bikes or climbing trees or playing a pickup game of baseball or football. If it was cold out, we were sledding down the hill that seemed so big back then or skating or having snowball fights. Now that I am actually putting this down on paper, I see how archaic this would seem to children now. Times were different and we didn't have to worry about being abducted or other scary things happening so our parents rarely knew where we were. Our parents were safe in knowing that we were with a group of kids and if something happened, they would find out quickly because someone would run hellbent for election to get them.

My point in telling this story is that we were so active that without knowing it we working all of our muscle groups and this maintained the balance and stability we first developed as toddlers. But then we became teens and noticed that the children we once played with were cute or handsome and our lives changed. Back in those days, we sat around and listened to music together (among other things). We began that downhill slide to imbalance in our bodies. Most people then began living their adult lives and got busy with their kids and work. Most importantly people were not paying attention to what was happening to their bodies.

I am a physical therapist and I am seeing this. Clients are coming with back pain and total knees and hips. They are coming with rotator cuff tears in there shoulders and neck pain. If these people had a balanced body, many of these problems would never have started. In the weeks and months to come, I will give you the tools to balance your body physically and nutritionally. My partners Tom and Nicole will help you balance other aspects of your life. No matter what your age or how imbalanced you may be, you will see improvement in your body balance and your life balance. As always, with anything we tell you, respect your limitations. Any discomfort means that you should back off and ask us for help.  

Martha Quiroga, MHS, PT, AFPA certified nutritionist