Tired or Achy? How to Feel Better

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.

Weekly Massages, Anyone?

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.

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Comments

  1. I wish I could afford weekly massages! Even monthly would be awesome.

    I never had energy or motivation, was tired and achy all the time. What helped me: losing 100 pounds. It worked. I have energy now. I feel a million times better!
    Lisa recently posted..Snacking is Not BadMy Profile

  2. Active recovery is also a great way to help recover better, and so is simple rest. Equal importance should be placed on nutrition, exercise, and recovery in any fitness program.
    Coach Calorie recently posted..Six Pack Abs – How To Get ThemMy Profile

    • Indeed. I linked to my nutrition post here but have a recovery post or two as well. While I believe nutrition and rest are equal parts of the equation, my belief is that it’s not widely known how exercise can create energy. Some might believe exercise makes you tired, or if they haven’t ever exercised regularly (a large percentage of Americans), they simply don’t know. My hope is to simply bring that message home.

  3. I am so glad you did this post. I have a problem with speaking the truth sometimes, I tend to sugar coat things, but the reality is that chronic pain and fatigue are not normal nor healthy. The reality is that people suffering from this can do something about it. I did….you did…millions of people do. So how do I find that ‘sugar coated’ way of telling my loved ones this?
    Katie Squires recently posted..10 more miles to go….My Profile

    • Hey Katie! You can try pointing them to testimonials and examples (and blogs!) of people who have turned their lives around after becoming active. I love stories of seniors who are thriving and doing things that are unconventional, such as switching careers at age 70 or running marathons.

      There’s obviously a lot of science to back up the benefits of exercise, including increased energy. A better conditioned body hurts less and can withstand repetitive movements such as sitting (although we need to stretch and strengthen muscles to counteract this). However, I’ve found that even when I tell certain people they don’t have to “feel old,” that they can control more than they know, they still want to cling to that belief. It’s hard to listen to complaints when someone won’t do anything about it, but I just have to try to educate and then let it go :).

  4. Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes! This may not be the truth we want to hear, but it’s the one we need to hear. I guess it’s human nature that we humans tend to want an easy, passive way to a better life.

    Having lived both a healthy and an unhealthy lifestyle, I can testify that exercise and good nutrition provide much more energy than they “cost.”

    And I so love that you said this: “Chronic aches and pains aren’t just ‘part of aging.’” Most of the frailty and loss of energy and function we associate with old age are the result of sedentary living.

    So if we don’t want to end up as little old people who can’t rise from a chair, what are we going to do about it?
    Mary C. Weaver, CSCS recently posted..The best diets, part 2: VolumetricsMy Profile

    • Thanks Mary, and well said. I’ll never succumb to the popular belief that we all need to become tired and weak as we age. “Age with Style” is my motto ;).

  5. I have to agree wholeheartedly with you on this one Suzanne! Exercise is the best medicine. Even though I run as regularly as I can, at least 30 minutes 4-5 times a week, it really isn’t enough to off-set all the sitting I do. I have a chronic low back disc issue that I am convinced is all due to tight hip flexors as well as a rounding in the low back…. all from sitting. I finally decided that rather than sit on the sofa or at the desk to do my reading, I have the treadmill set on an incline and ready to go. When I’m ready to read I jump on the treadmill walk uphill at a pace that allows me to still read my book or articles. It gets me off my a**!!
    Yolanda recently posted..The Pricing Secret They Forgot to Tell You…My Profile

    • Fantastic, Yolanda! You’ve figured it out and committed to being active instead of sitting more when you get home. And I know it’s easy to do when you have chronic pain. Kudos!

  6. Adriang1960 says:

    So very true. Please keep up your efforts to pass on the benefits of exercise. You are #WINNING!

  7. Suzanne – I hear you, girl! Last week, I slowed down on exercise and my healthy eating habits got out of whack because of the holiday and having house guests for a week that love to eat out and bring me chocolate. Yesterday, it felt like I was sleepwalking through my day. So it was with pure joy that I met my trainer this morning at 6:30a and went back to my normal nutrition – and now feel awake again because of it!
    Shira recently posted..Letting your “freak flag” fly during fitnessMy Profile

  8. Great post! You’re so right – exercise gives you energy! I suffered from post-partum depression which made me feel tired & achy all the time. One day I said I’m done with this… I registered for a half marathon & started training – I’m training for my 3rd one now & feel better than I have in years!
    Janice- The Fitness Cheerleader recently posted..Motivation Monday: Life HappensMy Profile

    • I admire that Janice – you did something about it and now look at what you’ve accomplished. Not only that but you inspire others with your blog. I wish I’d known the energy secret when I was post-partum… it’s tough going with a newborn and exercise can set you free ;).

  9. I’m going to come from the other side of the fence here: Yes, exercise helps one feel better, minimize aches, pains, and live a more active life.

    I think what is also working here, my observation anyway, is that people’s tolerance of the aches and pains which do come from everyday living is on the decrease. We are designed to get older and older. Those of us lucky to make it to 50 and beyond are going to show and feel some wear and tear in the body — high mileage cars aren’t showroom quality. I often tell people, “If you’re over 30 and some parts of you don’t creak, you haven’t really lived.

    But I have observed a trend in people making a bigger deal out of lesser creaks because Advil and Tylenol commercials tell us we should. Social memes spread the idea too; in the workplace bad backs spread as fast as head colds…. We are just getting more wussified as a culture.
    Emergefit recently posted..Influences…My Profile

    • True – we will all show some mileage. Injuries build up and don’t always disappear… I have an achy knee and not sure if my shoulder will ever be 100%. Interesting idea about our lower tolerance for pain. It may very well be driven by corporations wanting to “cure” us and their marketing efforts. I think marketing controls us all much more than we know, and THAT is why I don’t watch TV commercials (don’t even get me started ;)).

  10. I used to have weekly massages and bi-weekly chiropractic adjustments to deal with constant headaches from stress. While the weekly massages WERE nice, the stress was not. I made a career change to get rid of that. Finally, now that I’ve made healthy lifestyle changes, the headaches and migraines are more of a monthly occurrence rather than daily.
    Heather @ Not a DIY Life recently posted..What Do You Do When You Fall Down?My Profile

    • So glad you’ve seen improvements Heather! Chronic stress has such a detrimental effect on our body. Exercise is an amazing mood booster and stress reliever!

  11. The only thing I’d ever broken in the first few decades of my life was probably a fingernail :-)

    Then whap! Within a few years there was the pelvis – that required skeletal traction for 6 weeks – that was fun and games as nobody at the hospital really had a clue how to erect the metal frame that I became surgically attached to – followed by several weeks on crutches, non weight bearing on the left leg, with continuing physio. Then I got Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in my left hand from my awkward use/ weight on the arm and wrist… that required an op…

    Then, a couple of years later another fall (tripped over a street paving stone on the way back from a networking event – it should have carried a health warning…) ended up with an elbow an inch and a half away fro where it should be… :-( Another op followed by physio… Then, most recently frozen shoulder (sounds the least damage but it was by far the most painful, and for several months) that was finally eased by a steroid injection… followed by… more physio!

    These things do make you more appreciative of general good health it’s otherwise easy to take for granted – also makes you realise how much better placed you are for fighting back if you’re not overweight and are reasonably fit to start with…
    Linda Mattacks recently posted..Let’s Build A Successful Business!My Profile

    • So sorry for your struggles Linda :(. Whenever we have an injury, there’s a chain reaction in our bodies. One injury can lead to others as our bodies try to compensate for the weak area. I agree it’s important to appreciate our good health and protect it, because as you say, when something bad happens, a healthy body can only help.

  12. Massage is a great idea, after a hot shower or bath – it’s perfect.

    I have to admit I can quickly get the exercise “high” and after a few weeks you have so much energy, I don’t find it tiring at all.

    I really enjoyed reading this – thanks Suzannne
    Sarah Arrow recently posted..Two types of SEO a blogger should know #bloggingMy Profile

    • It’s true that it takes a few weeks to get that “high” and energy. At first it makes you quite tired! I remember I was exhausted after my gym classes when I returned after my accident. It took many weeks before I found that happy place after a workout.

  13. Yes! I always feel better when I’m exercising regularly. And I’ve never been one to get regular massages. Sure, it’s great while you’re on the table, but ten minutes after I leave I’m tight and stressed again – so I’d rather do something that will last longer (and is a lot cheaper!).
    Lisa recently posted..Thoughts On Taming the Email MonsterMy Profile

    • Lol, I find that the drive home is usually enough to negate the effects of a massage. It’s a fabulous reward but agree with you that I like longer lasting pursuits.

  14. So true Suzanne, sitting down a lot and having an exercise regime that consists of visiting the kitchen for more coffee or ambling round the grocery store or shopping mall doesn’t lead to a toned, poised and energetic body.
    And your points about core strengths through the body as well made, and ever more important as we get older.
    I do love massages, I don’t have them very often, usually because someone has given me one as a gift and I regard them as a treat and luxury, equally for the mind and spirit as for the body.

    I think touch, which can be quite lacking in our modern society for some people, is a very therapeutic and vital ingredient to overall health.
    Christine Miller recently posted..Entrepreneurial SpiritMy Profile

    • I agree! Massages can be so therapeutic. And yes, touch is lacking in our world so much that why not indulge in the feeling of someone touching our body as if it’s the most beautiful, prized thing in the world?

  15. Love love love this post Suzanne! I can’t agree with you more.

    Since losing my weight and exercising I started going to massage on a regular basis. I found that it helps me mentally so much as well as helps my diabetes neuropathy.
    Sheri @Motivation For Fitness & Health recently posted..Now What?My Profile

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