Where does it hurt? Everywhere: How to live with growing old pains

Aug 21, 2023
When you are young, you think you are invincible. You can bounce back from anything, more often than not better for the experience. Source: Getty

I watched a man walk from his car towards Runaway Bay Shopping Centre this week.

In an almost crumpled position, he released himself from the Toyota Camry he’d arrived in, wincing as he tried to stand upright.

As he fought to straighten his body, he tilted his head skyward, and you could see the pain spread across his face. His eyes closed, and his mouth gaped. With every step his body released a little and his gait lengthened until he found some form of comfort.

He looked to be about my age. And trust me when I say that I feel his pain.

I’m 61 and most days something on my body hurts. Not sharp pains, more like numerous dull aches.

Ask any man who has reached the age of 60 or beyond and if they are honest, they will tell you that they are managing their aches and pains. Anyone who has no pain has won the health lottery.

One of my golfing buddies Ron, who is 74, takes CBD oil. He gets it sent by special delivery from Nimbin every month.

“I had a couple of injuries that I just couldn’t get over,’’ he said.

“I started taking the CBD oil. It worked almost immediately. And now I’m fearful to give it up in case the pain comes back.”

Another mate Jim, who turned 70 this year, finds comfort in a muscle relief gel that is made for horses. Every time he buys it at PetBarn he lies telling them that it is for his aging horse. He says that the vet probably knows the truth, but is happy to sell it to him anyway.

Jim has also become an advocate of YouTube stretching classes aimed at freeing his body up. When Jim started doing the stretching classes he couldn’t touch his toes. Now he can put the palm of his hand on the ground when he bends over.

He’s certainly more flexible, but he’s still in so much pain that he has to rub horse gel into his back almost every day.

My cousin Peter, who turned 68 this month, has dodgy knees from a lifetime of playing sports. You can almost hear the click, click, click of bone on bone when he walks. He will eventually have to have his knees replaced but until then, he manages the pain as best he can. As he says, some days are diamonds, some days are stones.

For me, it’s not just one pain. It’s several.

Some days it is my left big toe. It might be gout, Dad had that, but I’ve stopped drinking and eating rich food and the pain is still there, so I think it could be something different.

I have a sciatic issue that runs down my right leg. The pain is mostly in my hip but sometimes it is in my calf. Sometimes it is so bad I just need to lie down.

And then there’s my shoulder. My right golf shoulder. It needs rest to heal properly but golf every Monday and Wednesday is a chance to catch up with mates – and I would rather manage the pain than miss that.

When you are young, you think you are invincible. You can bounce back from anything, more often than not better for the experience.

In your 20s, you can play rugby union on Saturday and back up for a rugby league game on Sunday.

In your 30s, you can chase the kids around the park for hours and hours. You have more energy than them.

Nowadays, watching football sitting in the lounge on Saturday and Sunday is an effort and a couple of hours with the grandkids is emotionally pleasing but physically exhausting.

It is a challenge to convince your mind that you are actually old, and need to slow down a bit. Most of us still feel like we are young with the world ahead of us.

There’s a difference between slowing down and stopping though.

Stopping is bad for you. It’s the worst thing you can do to your body.

No matter what age you are, you have to continue to push yourself. You just need to lower the bar a little. You need to find the balance and an exercise regime that suits your age.

If you become too sedentary and you don’t use your joints enough, you will be in pain. At the other end of the scale, if you do too much you will cause injury and end up in pain.

Here are five things that can help ease some of your aches and pains.

The key at any age is to keep moving and keep walking. If walking is an option, you should always do it. Pump up the tyres of your old bike and enjoy some low-impact exercise, it helps to strengthen the muscles around the joints.

You should also act like an Olympic athlete. By that I mean you should always warm up and cool down – it’s better for your body to ease into exercise, rather than launch into it.

My doctor is always telling me to lose weight. And that’s important as excess weight puts stress on muscles and joints. I just wish it was easier.

Drink more water, than wine. Stay hydrated because it helps keep your joints lubricated and healthy.

Getting a good night’s sleep is also crucial. Try to go to bed at the same time every night. Don’t set an alarm if you don’t have to. Your body clock will tell you when it’s time to wake up. Make sure you turn off your mobile phone when you go to bed. You don’t want your sleep interrupted by a beeping phone.

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