Every morning I wake up and play a game I call What Hurts Today? Or, if something already hurts, I play a related game, Is It Better or Worse?

The answer often reveals itself as soon as I step out of the bed. Other times it begins when I start working out.

Other days, like today, I play an advanced version known as, Oh, What Now???

See if you can guess the main theme for today’s round:

  1. My right knee
  2. My lower back
  3. My left knee
  4. My left shoulder, which up to this point has been the ONLY joint in my entire body that did not hurt

Give up?

Yup, my shoulder. For bonus points, guess why this particular joint decided to rear its ugly head:

A. I strained it playing tennis

B. I used too much weight performing a shoulder exercise

C. I fell on it while running with the bulls

D. Absolutely nothing, aside from living life, minding my own business, and trying to make it to my next birthday

Trick question, since I don’t play tennis. Choices “B” and “C” are possible scenarios, but they actually make sense. So that can’t happen.

Yes, “D” again.

I have no idea why my shoulder hurts and didn’t realize how bad it was until I went to do squats with a bar behind my neck. Getting my arms up and back to support the bar caused more pain in my left shoulder than the pain I expect to feel from my knees.

The good news: The shoulder pain enabled me to forget about my knee pain.

So I got that going for me.

I do my best to keep my sense of humor but trust me, it’s not easy. I’ve created a small circle of friends at the gym, all of us are in our 50s and older, and we compare aches and pains. It’s not pretty.

We all do the best we can, but some days it takes a lot more curse words than others to get through the workout.

Today was one of them.

Even when you do everything right, injuries happen more easily after 50 due to physical changes we can’t prevent.

For example, tendons become more “brittle” and less hydrated with age. This makes tendonitis more common.

Not enough rest between workout days, too much too soon, and improper form all set the stage for owies.

Another contributing factor is lack of flexibility, which also increases as we “mature.”

I admit, I don’t stretch enough. I do a few stretches religiously every night while watching TV but am less than consistent with it in general.

But when I do them regularly, I definitely feel better. In fact, regular stretches got rid of some major back pain years ago. It only returns if I skip my routine.

Check out these FIVE keys to get the most out of a stretching routine:

–Always warm up before stretching by doing light cardio or otherwise ensuring your muscles are warm; skip this step and you risk straining a muscle — the best time is after your workout, not before

–Hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds unless otherwise instructed

–Do not hold your breath. Visualize breathing into the muscle as you increase the stretch

–Do not bounce! 

— For best results, stretch every day. As I mentioned, do it alongside something else you do every day, such as watching TV

Here are a few of my favorite lower back and upper body stretches… stay tuned for more soon!

3 Ageless Back Stretches

2 Ageless Arms Stretches

NOW YOU… Do you stretch regularly? Let me know in the comments section below… 

Other posts you may like:

7 Best and worst exercises for an achy back

How to get results when you can’t figure out what you’re doing wrong 

5 Best bodyweight exercises for women over 50

Got questions? Post ’em below or send me a note at linda@lindamelone.com and I’ll answer as soon as I can!

Remember: you CAN do this!

Your Ageless Body Coach,