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VOL. 41 | NO. 45 | Friday, November 10, 2017

Managing pain helps aging clients get/stay in shape

By Hollie Deese

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Author James P. Owen, 70, believes it is never too late to push back against old age.

-- Submitted Photo By Robert Dawson

There comes a point in time where we all start to “feel our age,” when those aches, pains and sore joints become a bit more pronounced.

As we chug along closer and closer to middle age, we also are more likely to have had some surgeries, suffered a sports injury or two and even been in an accident that sidelined us from physical activity.

That was one reason speaker and former Wall Street bigwig James P. Owen went from a couch potato to a fitness guru at age 70.

“The truth is it took a toll on my body,” Owen, now 77, says of business dinners and a lifetime on the road. “Late night dinners, cramped airplane trips, just one thing after another. My back was killing me. I was literally in excruciating pain with epidural shots, my knees were shot and my rotator cuff was actually frozen. I was overweight by probably 20-25 pounds.”

He saw a statistic from the Mayo Clinic that those who make it to age 70 have a high chance of living another 15 years. If that were true for him, he wanted those years to feel good.

“Everybody talks about motivation,” he adds. “In my case, I just said I cannot live with this pain. I didn’t want to get hooked on medicine and doctor visits.

“And the lesson I learned was, it’s never too late to begin to push back against old age. If you don’t do something, you’re going to go downhill. There’s no question about that.”

His latest book, “Just Move: A New Approach to Fitness After 50,’’ (National Geographic, September 12, 2017) is a fitness guide that provides a flexible, step-by-step program readers can tailor to their own specific needs that is less vanity driven and more about healthy aging.

“And that means you can go about your daily routine, whatever that is, without aches and pains, and hopefully stay independent,” Owen explains. “And live in your own home as long as you can.”

Owen says pain management issues hold a lot of people back from exercise, and he admits he is lucky not to have arthritis. But every older adult, even the most gifted athlete, has at least one painful or tight issue to work around.

“Yours might be from an auto accident six years (ago),” he says. “You might have fallen out of tree as a kid. And, oftentimes, these injuries come back years and years later. No one knows why that’s true, but it is true.

“But if you’re an athlete, you played college football, you might be OK for 20 or 30 years, and all of a sudden you have knee issues.”

Owen encourages every older adult to visit the doctor before starting a fitness program to make sure aches and pains are not from any structural issues.

Bone health and women

Hip fractures result in approximately 300,000 hospital admissions and an estimated $9 billion in direct medical costs each year, Center for Disease Control statistics. Most of these fractures result from osteoporosis among women who experience accelerated bone loss after natural or surgically induced menopause.

Diane Mulloy, 53, owns three OsteoStrong franchises in Middle Tennessee, a system that claims to trigger the growth of new bone and muscle density in weekly, seven-minute sessions.

OsteoStrong was created based on research in cellular biology, anti-aging, longevity and bone-mass production. The result is an improvement in overall muscle strength, balance and posture while easing joint pain.

The OsteoStrong system “enables you to place a very brief but adequate pressure on your muscularskeletal system. The moment your body senses the right amount of stimulus, it can respond by actually growing new bone and muscle tissue naturally …,” according to the company.

“It’s a natural way to reverse bone loss,” Mulloy explains. “Osteoporosis is one of the biggest epidemics in the country. Cardio’s great, but if you aren’t putting weight on your body as you age, your body naturally starts atrophying. That’s why athletes, at some point at about age 30, can’t keep up because the body is going to fight it, is going to just naturally start aging.”

Many who attend OsteoStrong sessions are looking for improvement in osteoporosis symptoms, improved balance, reduced chronic joint and back pain, reversing fibromyalgia, and improved physical strength.

“My clientele is primarily the 50-and-up population, probably 75 percent women,” Mulloy says. “Our focus is on bone density, balance and strength, so our goal is to reverse osteoporosis, to prevent osteoporosis. We do change as we get older, and if you can keep your bones and your muscles young, that’s half the battle.”

The sessions are 10 minutes once a week. Mulloy’s clients are looking for relief from back pain, joint pain and arthritis, while some have come out of cancer looking to repair the bone loss from chemo. Some are golfers or tennis players with sore shoulders looking to strengthen their joints.

“My goal is everybody living independently as long as possible,” Mulloy says.

Medicine not needed?

Managing pain is so important to maintaining a fitness routine that Dr. Cedric Bryant, chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, says even marijuana has its place. The ACE is a non-profit with no ties to drug companies and no government funding.

“Perhaps the most often talked-about effect of marijuana use among athletes is its role as a pain reliever,” Bryant writes. “In addition to offering actual pain management, marijuana appears to alter the emotional response to pain by distracting the individual from feelings of pain and fatigue, and refocusing their energy on the task at hand – a valuable benefit for long-duration athletes like runners or cyclists.”

Still, Bryant is not suggesting marijuana is something anyone should add to their routine in the hopes that it will enhance physical performance.

“There are simply too many risks and unknowns associated with regular use, not the least of which is the building up of a tolerance that requires heavier usage to achieve the same results.”

Courtney Moseley, 36, owns Music City Health Center in Hendersonville, which has evolved from a traditional chiropractic office to an integrated wellness clinic that can help with immediate and long-term pain management without medicine. Instead she combines nutrition and allergy testing with chiropractic work, trigger point therapy, hyaluronic acid injections and even stem cell therapy to regenerate joints.

On site are three chiropractors, a nurse practitioner and a medical director. Moseley says people find the clinic through advertising on social media and the community health fairs. Music City Health also partners with other businesses like nearby UFC Gym for more focused health and nutrition talks.

Moseley says stem cell therapy actually regenerates a joint, with the cells that are injected turning into the cells they are placed next to. The actual procedure takes 10 minutes, and after taking it easy for a few weeks people can then incorporate stretching, massage and exercise. Weight training can resume a few weeks later.

“We see several old NFL players and people who box and people who are trainers,” she points out.

Moseley says there are certainly misconceptions about stem cell therapy, so they host a stem cell workshop every two weeks to help individuals learn before investing in a procedure that ranges from $3,000 to $6,000, depending on joint size. Some insurance is accepted.

A less-expensive, less-permanent solution is hyaluronic acid injections that can help relieve pain for 6-8 months.

“Usually, in our 20s, we didn’t do the right things,” Moseley explains.

“You didn’t think about these things like staying out in the sun or running long distance. So it’s really cool just to be able to see that we’re able to heal and help people function better. That’s exciting to me because somebody who’s not going to work out because she’s in pain will work out now.”