Aches and Pains and What to do about It

Updated: Sep 2, 2021



My ‘established’ knowledge about the human tooth was destroyed yesterday. I hate it when that happens, but I do love acquiring new information, so it balances out. I know that as kids, we got cavities in our teeth. It just happened, at least to our generation it did. The decay is removed with a lot of drilling, preceded mercifully by a novocain shot, gas (I had that once in 1953), or nothing (also had that) and the hole is filled. The tooth then lives happily ever after. Not so! That filling, I’m told, acts like a wedge splitting a log and every time you bite down, it drives the wedge deeper into the tooth until it splits.


In phase two, an expensive, but well worth it, crown is placed over the remolded tooth―end of story. I wish. The next phase in the life of our teeth is root exposure when we become ‘long in the tooth.’ The gums recede and the soft part of the root is now exposed and just waiting to cause a problem. After more shots in the mouth, root roughing, a resin composite is applied to cover the exposed root and all is well―for the time being. Is there a next phase? Maybe there is and if we live long enough we’ll find out, but I don’t know what it is.


But what I really want to talk about is routine soreness or stiffness that seniors experience―not chronic pain such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. They’re in a different category and deserve our empathy. Pain in the small of my back and shoulders and general stiffness in the morning drove me to research the topic. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/dont-be-such-a-stiff said it may occur because we are inactive when we sleep.


“Ever get that "old man" stiffness in the morning? You know the feeling: the dull, achy, and sometimes painful feeling in your joints…when you first stand and slowly move around.”


"It's not known why this happens, especially as people age, but the only common thread is that it occurs after long bouts of inactivity," says Dr. William Docken, a rheumatologist with Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. "That is why you often feel so stiff when you wake up, since sleeping is when you are inactive for the longest continuous time."


I have noticed that if I get up three or four times during the night, I feel better in the morning than when I get up only twice. I hate having to get up, but it does have a benefit.


But sleeping isn’t the only time we are inactive. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/stiff-and-achy-in-the-mornings-how-to-fix-that-2020120821565 notes “...any prolonged period of sitting also can cause stiffness, like watching TV, working at the computer, or riding in the car.” The point is we have to break up our sitting and move about to avoid tightening up. “Regular stretching exercises help keep muscles and ligaments flexible. They can also reduce stress on joints and improve the flow of blood and nutrients throughout the body. Without it, stiffness, limitation of movement, and pain can occur or increase.”


For many of us, simply getting older is the culprit. As we age, the cartilage covering our joints change. The fluid becomes less viscous and we experience stiffness and discomfort. Usually, it will go away on its own as we move about, but stretching exercises will speed the process. I’ve learned another rule of thumb. “If it hurts, stop doing it.’ Not rocket science but the ‘no pain, no gain’ mentality drives us to ‘work through the pain.’ I’m on day three of ‘stop doing it’ after feeling pain in my lower back while doing push-ups. I learned I was doing them wrong. It’s all about maintaining proper form.


https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/pushups-everyday#:~:text=Traditional%20pushups%20are%20beneficial%20for,effective%20exercise%20for%20building%20strength

“Traditional push-ups are beneficial for building upper body strength. They work the triceps, pectoral muscles, and shoulders. When done with proper form, they can also strengthen the lower back and core by engaging (pulling in) the abdominal muscles.”



“If you’re going to do push-ups each day, having the correct form is…important. Doing pushups without proper form can lead to an injury”…such as “lower back or shoulder pain...”

https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/how-to-prevent-lower-back-pain-during-push-ups-47512280

“If you're… experiencing lower-back pain during push-ups, it might be time to check…on your form. According to Rebecca Fox, an ACE-certified personal trainer, poor core engagement…could be to blame for your discomfort. It's actually one of the most common pain-causing mistakes made while performing push-ups.”


"Poor core engagement results in the arching of your lower back during the push-up”…which “puts an enormous amount of pressure on your lower back and can cause pain.” After looking at several pictures, ‘arching‘ can also mean ‘sway back’ where your stomach begin to drop lower and lower as you valiantly push to get ‘just one more.’


Similarly, when we are on our back and lifting our legs, it’s important to push downward with our stomach muscles to keep the small of the back flat on the floor. That will prevent forming that painful arch.


(I can’t read number 2 in the picture either, but I get the point.)


Even with my lower back pain, I’ve learned there is a pain-free alternative to the tradition push-up that doesn’t stress your back―the kneeling push-up. Using this technique, I can do, at best, two or three more than with the tradition method. I’ve always looked down on the kneeling push-up, but not anymore. They’re just as hard to do, so I hereby repent of all the derogatory things I said about them and plan to do them from now on.



Hope this is helpful. I sure learned something and I’ve been engaged in physical activity for many years. I think that when we’re young, our bodies are forgiving, but when we’re older, recess is over. If you have a story to tell about exercising, I’d love to hear it

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