I spend a lot of time these days feeling like an energizer bad ass. And I’m no spring chicken, mind you.
Not only that, but I used to feel tired and weak all the time. Sure, I was rear-ended in 2001 and suffered chronic neck pain for years afterwards. But I also felt tired and weak a lot before that. I’ve always been healthy and right around my idea weight, so I didn’t even have a concrete reason.
Unfortunately, feeling tired and weak seemed normal. When I think of all the times I sat around instead of being productive, it makes me shake my head. And sadly, this is the condition in which many people live.
I see a lot of the Weekly Massage Syndrome: People who suffer from undiagnosed aches and pains and don’t know how else to get relief other than massages. (If you’re rehabbing an injury or using massage for therapeutic purposes, this doesn’t apply to you!) The average persons has aches and pains: your low-back hurts, your knee gives you trouble, and your hamstrings feel tight all the time. Maybe you even have headaches.
And it’s no wonder – you can get achy just from sitting all day. Your hip flexors become tight from being in a flexed position for a long period of time, and tight hip flexors result in weak glutes and lower back – fundamental components of your core. Your core assists your body in almost every basic movement, so if it’s weak, other muscles will kick in to help. This is called a muscle imbalance, and any imbalance in your body can result in injury or chronic pain.
Chronic aches and pains aren’t just “part of aging.” Muscle tightness, an ache here or there – sure. You might do something weird once in a while that tweaks a muscle or joint for a short time. Or you have an old injury that acts up. But every day? Not normal for the average, otherwise healthy individual. Unfortunately, we accept living this way because we think it’s just part of “getting old.” Or because we think it’s an unavoidable consequence of sitting at a computer all day.
You may think it’s easier to get regular massages to address aches and pains than say, start an exercise program. But a massage only replaces what you could be doing yourself (conditioning and stretching your body) and which would actually make you healthier in the process. (And if you work out and love massages, enjoy!)
Too Tired to Get Off the Couch
I’m speaking from experience here. I sat on the couch for an entire Thanksgiving Day once while my family made dinner. I had no energy and I couldn’t comprehend how they could be on their feet all day. What I found, however, is that exercise and a healthy diet give me energy. And if I miss more than a week of exercise I start to become lethargic.
Now that I’m at an all-time high with my energy, strength, and badassery (while also being 10 years older), that Thanksgiving is a distant memory. When I get home from a long, long day, yes – I want to sit down and rest my tired muscles. But I never feel like I need to sit down for very long; I can easily chase the cat around the house if needed or clean a room.
The Answer You Really Do Want to Hear
If regular massages, lying down, camping on the couch, and taking ibuprofen aren’t the answers to chronic fatigue, aches, and pains, what is?
You already know the answer. You may not believe it yet, but you know you’re ready for a change.
I’m proof that consistent exercise can make you groove like you’ve never grooved. Give you energy at any age. Make you strong, not only muscle-wise but in your heart and lungs. Lose weight. And consistent exercise can and will make you happier and more self-confident. There is really no anti-depressant like exercise, and I know that firsthand, too.
Consistency really is the magic elixir here. Being a weekend warrior can actually cause aches and pains, because your body isn’t properly conditioned for what you’re asking it to do. Cycling or playing racquetball twice a month is great, but that frequency won’t give you the benefits of long-lasting energy and good health.
Once you start exercising and stretching regularly – that is, every day or at least 3-4 times a week, you’ll notice your energy increases, your mood improves, and your body composition changes. And you’ll jealously guard your workout time lest you lose these qualities.
There’s an exercise for everyone. If you’re not into lifting weights, there are body weight exercises (calisthenics) you can do. Or outdoor pursuits. Or exercise machines. Anything that keeps you moving, gets your heart rate up, and tests your strength is game.
How to start? Move. Take a walk every single day. Put the gym on your calendar and don’t let anything stand in the way. Tell your family of your plans and do it for yourself. Commitment and consistency will erase those aches and pains and make you years younger… and that truly is a miracle cure-all.