My mom always said that 40 could feel like the new 60 when it comes to discovering new happenings in our bodies.
It's the simple things like noticing the aches in our knees when walking down the stairs, feeling the tug in our low back when bending over to capture an item off the floor, and my personally favorite .. being cautious not to move my neck too quickly in the mornings to hopefully avoid literally getting a pain in my neck!
Why does this happen and more importantly is there anything we can do to mange our daily aches and pains, so we may have the freedom to engage fully in our lives as we age?
Our guest today has some answers to these questions and I for one can't wait to learn more!
Megan is a doctor of physical therapy with over 18 years of experience treating patients with a multitude of diagnoses, injuries, surgeries and medical complications. She has developed a dynamic skill set for various treatment settings and patient populations to develop a diverse and powerful skill set of helping people understand their mobility and their muscle skeletal pains.
She has developed how to move without pain to reach more people who want to live, work and be active without joint pain and strain folding them back. She is an expert and postural help, mobility, wellness and understanding what our joints are trying to tell us.
She is passionate about teaching others about their joint pain, mobility and wellness so they can be strong, healthy and mobile for their entire life.
Stay connected with Meghan and find out more about her work with the quick, access links below:
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Midlife. What does it mean to you? I believe that midlife is a place to recognize, reprioritize and redefine your purpose. It's a place of new beginnings, new personal growth and new adventures. Midlife is a chance to release your outdated labels and begin designing your second like journey. How? With heart centered experts, tangible tools and a supportive community. Why? Because if not now, then when? Now that's real talk. I am Ericka, your host and Curator of Zest. Let's begin building our Midlife by Design together. If you're enjoying this content, please follow and share this podcast with someone you care about too, as it truly helps to keep that zesty energy flowing and visit TheZestfulMovement.com where you'll find more resources cultivated for your midlife journey on health, relationships and more.
Meghan is a doctor of physical therapy with over 18 years of experience treating patients with a multitude of diagnoses, injuries, surgeries and medical complications. She has developed a dynamic skill set for various treatment settings and patient populations to develop a diverse and powerful skill set of helping people understand their mobility and their muscle skeletal pains. She has developed How to move without Pain to reach more people who want to live, work and be active without joint pain and strain holding them back. She is an expert and postural help, mobility, wellness and understanding what our joints are trying to tell us. She is passionate about teaching others about their joint pain, mobility and wellness so they can be strong, healthy and mobile for their entire life.
My mom always said that 40 could feel like the new 60 when it comes to discovering new happenings in our bodies. It's the simple things like noticing the aches and our knees when walking down the stairs, feeling the tug in our low back when bending over to capture an item off the floor. And my personal favorite, being cautious not to move my neck too quickly in the morning to avoid a little crook in the neck. Our guest today has some answers to these questions. And I for one can't wait to learn more. Some of the questions are why does this happen? And more importantly, is there anything we can do to manage our daily aches and pains, so we may have the freedom to engage fully in our lives as we age? Meghan, welcome to Midlife by Design.
Thank you for having me, Ericka.
I am so grateful to have you here and delve into the topic of our body because we use our bodies every day. And we don't necessarily know why they do what they do. If things are normal, if it's just part of the process of aging, and what we can really do about it. So after being a physical therapist for almost two decades, what are some common aches and pains that you're beginning to notice showing up in your own physical body? And if we address these aches quickly, can we avoid them from becoming chronic pain in our bodies?
Yeah, so something that I hear often from people is that I turned 40, and my life fell apart. It has a lot less to do with age, at least starting in the 40s. And a lot more to do with how we're understanding what we're feeling and what we do about what we're feeling. So in my own body, I have noticed that I don't travel well. Or I should say my neck doesn't travel well. It does not transition well to different types of pillows and the support of the mattress. And it's almost a guarantee now that when I travel, I probably won't be able to turn my head in one direction for a little while without pain. But ...
That is definitely something that I can relate to. So I'm happy to hear you're talking about that.
And so, really, when I feel this in the morning, the most thing that I'm first trying to do in the morning, is just get myself up and moving. I mean, if you think about it, we've been sleeping all night. So we're laying in the bed. Gravity's hitting us in a different way. We've been supported in a different way. So I don't worry about my neck pain or movement at all for at least the first half hour. I'm mainly just trying to wake up and get coffee anyway.
Mm hmm. What do you say that that is the first step when you're addressing a common body ache like that is it just give it a little bit of movement and kind of see where it lands on you and 30 minutes or so?
First thing in the morning? Absolutely. Just wake your body up and give it some time because you've got to get yourself acclimated to being in your joints really acclimated to being back in those weight bearing positions. Gravity coming down on you, and just letting things loosen up and move again. And and I guess really with that also is that as we age, our bodies just tighten eaten up, and then become more flexible in a way that we just feel a lot more than we do when we're younger. We don't really feel those, those tightenings of those joints and muscles like we do as we get older. And that's just honestly, part of the normal process of aging.
That's very interesting. So I'm good to hear as well, right? That it is a normal process. And I like that you bring up gravity because I think in our day to day life, we really don't think about gravity having an impact on our skeletal system, and our joints and how that can impact us when we wake up in the mornings. So what do you feel are some common misunderstandings around joint health and joint pain?
I think the biggest one that I hear from patients that I see and they are kind of polar opposites of each other people that either say, no pain, no gain, and I've got to push through it which in most cases just causes more pain, and then more injury. Or the people that go, why I don't want to hurt myself, so I did nothing.
Okay, so we're Yeah, we're on the extreme opposite ends of the field right now. What is the middle ground? And I'm also curious, Meghan, does joint pain differ for midlife women? Is that Is that something you've noticed as well.
Um, I think the thing to realize about the joints, especially in midlife, is they are changing. But and those changes are I take them more as warning signs that you got to pay attention a little bit more than you did, when you were younger. Meaning, that if your joint hurts, don't be afraid to move it. But you don't want to provoke or progress, that pain, because then it will really be an injury.
Okay, and so that's the common ground. So you do almost have to move to explore what's happening, maybe to get information, and then just pushing past it as if it's nothing, it's just totally setting yourself up for something more chronic, more major. So it's just a middle testing ground and trusting what your feedback is from your body. So well. So what do you say that is the landmark then when that pain is necessary to seek professional help is when you get moving in a little bit. And maybe after 20, 30 minutes, it doesn't really subside and you find more acute pain is that when you begin to seek professional care?
I would say I would recommend that someone seeks professional care. So this is a pain, like the first time we've ever had this pain. And you can't do anything to change it. You know, you might try taking medication that can melt it didn't really help you tried icing, you tried moving, and you really couldn't get a grasp on anything that made you better. That's usually where I say okay, sooner rather than later. Maybe you want to go see a physical therapist to find out what's going on.
That totally makes sense.
Yeah. But if you do get up in the morning, like me, and you're like, my neck really is hurting. But then you can get it moving, you feel like, by the end of the day, or, or even if it's two or three days later, you're like, no, my neck motion was back. You know that, you know, that norm that progression, it might take a little while. But those changes are occurring for you in a natural way, then that's not a reason why you specifically need to see someone. It's when you try are trying different things. And, and nothing's working. In fact, everything just makes you feel worse. That's when I say okay, you might want to learn what to do specifically for yourself sooner rather than later.
That makes a lot of sense. But it also kind of goes back to why it's important that we do move with knowledge and awareness so you can assess where that is right versus doing too much, or doing nothing at all. So when it seems like you can move and after a little bit of time, whether it's 30 minutes or a few days, you're feeling better and seeing progression, but it continues to come back like the neck, let me use the low, the low back those type of things. If they're still agitating you what is the solution then? Because I mean, in my heart, I truly believe that aging is definitely a process that brings about change. But I try very hard to believe that physical pain doesn't have to be commonplace every day. So what would you recommend for that person that doesn't necessarily need to see a PT, but obviously something is going on? Where can they find that? More freedom in their body with less pain?
So oftentimes, the biggest culprit is we all feel that we're very active because we all in general have busy lives. And yet, in the scope of our day, we're still very sedentary and that's what gets us into trouble. That's what gets that like, you know, I've had this low back ache pain for weeks now. But the problem is, you know, if you drive in your car to go to work, you're sitting. You go to work, say you do something where you're at a desk or even you're up and down a little bit, but you're mainly sitting all day, you're sitting again. Then you get back in your car, you go home and sit you make dinner but then you sit at dinner. Yeah, do things are in the house. And then you're like finally I can sit on the couch and relax. I mean all it all adds up. So the better thing to do is first like kind of take stock of your day, and how you can start putting in more frequent and short bouts of activity. And even if that is just changing position, you can't leave your desk, but you can stand up in like stretch at your desk. Or, you know, you've got to go to, you know, the copier machine or down to the bathroom, great, we'll take the long way so it's a little bit longer walk. Or take the long way back. Or do a couple laps to get yourself out of that sitting position and up in that standing position. And I'm a big believer, we don't have to do these big, long progress...aggressive exercise programs that take up a lot of our time. It would be better off if we found more frequent ways to do it throughout the day, so we're don't get up and go, Oh, hold on, I'll be with you in two seconds, I just need to figure out how I'm going to straighten my back. And that stiffness builds in and that is one of the probably the most common things I hear and see from patients.
And I love that your solution is simply move a little bit in ways that are accessible in your day. So it doesn't require like, oh, I gotta change clothes, get my sneakers .... No, it's really about just moving and being a little more systematic about how you move through the days to implement that in. So that, to me, it's like that makes it possible that makes it's doable. It's integrated into what it is you're already doing. So I feel like that gives people hope. And it's something they can start with. So if we start that, so say it's a late low back issue, because we're sitting consistently throughout the day. So when you give a patient, a patient that advice, and they put it into action, how quickly does the average pace patient begin to see like reduction in that tension and their low back?
Usually happens within a couple of days that people don't feel as stiff, as tight as I used to. And part of that is well if you're moving the joints in more positions more often, they're gonna stay more flexible. And then also, you're moving the muscles, which then also stay more flexible, because it's the combination of the joint pressure, and the muscle tightness that makes you feel either tight or achy or stiff. So if you are really diligent about doing, you know, five minutes, every hour or every other hour, throughout the day, that will really build up to 45 minutes to an hour worth of activity. And then by that time, you've got your exercise in and your body hasn't had that chance to tighten up and people notice a big difference in, in a few days.
Actually, that's really powerful. And so listening to you, I'm hearing two things and tell me if this makes sense. So it sounds like pain, actual daily aches and pain come from the joints. And that happens because the joints are inactive. And exercise essentially can be mindful movement that you integrate throughout your day that can relieve tension on those joints and muscles so that you can feel better in your body and release the tension that's there from being sedentary. Is that correct?
Absolutely. Yeah, there's lots of different things within the joints that can be pain generating. But in general, if you think of just like you said, like the joint as a whole, and movement as a whole, and move the joint, you've got it covered.
I love that. So I do like, once again, it's like, okay, lightbulb, I can do that I can stand up, I can stretch, I can take a longer walk, I can, you know, been side to side, reach down, touch my toes, whatever, just to kind of move in a different direction. So that I love that it's tangible, it's accessible. And you can start doing that today. So please tell us a little bit more about how you came up with your concept of How to Move Without Pain. Who's the concept for specifically? And how can these individuals benefit from your program Meghan?
So I came up with How to Move Without Pain because of my patients. My the two questions I get asked multiple times a day when I'm at work is why am I in pain? And what do I do about it? And I think a lot of that is just getting a better understanding of our joints and what our bodies are telling us when they're saying we need to rest when they're saying we need to move. And that's really where I came up with the concept and why I started the website to just give general information on how to read our bodies a little bit better when we're when we're moving or when we're sedentary. And a starting place of what we can do about it, because I feel like having a better understanding and then feeling like you have more control over it for yourself is very empowering to people. And then it helps with continuity of people going I have to do this more often. I don't know what dentist did in for marketing. But how they got people trained to like brush the cavities away. That is what I want to do for our joints and our muscles so people realize if you move more every day, you will move better, you will feel better. And that's really where it all came from.
I really love that image. Once again, it's a simple concept. But if we apply it, they can have a huge impact on our lives. So what do you do making when you're dealing with a client who, you know, is kind of past that point where pain is really settled in, they're starting to believe it's part of their life, and then that pain is beginning to impact them emotionally. And they're having some frustrations with that. So how do you work with them? And get them past that point of feeling like no, this pain? I mean, I know in some situations, maybe it is a bigger issue. But let's say what we're talking about here. How do you get them to shift their mindset, if you will, to not embrace pain, but to really get moving again? Because I think sometimes when people are in a mood of pain, it can impact how they show up how they feel. You know, it changes the disposition. So how you move through that if they're stuck in their mindset about pain?
I think the thing that I try and do most, especially if I have patients, or I have friends that are just kind of stuck in that mindset, that it's just gonna be like this forever. I try to change the conversation to okay, well, despite that, what can you do instead? Like I have a friend that's gotten into running and she's like, I cannot run up hills, because it just hurts my one hip every time. But she can keep running on flat with no issues. So she just picks paths that are better flatter. There's always something else, or something different, or some some change that you can do. So I think, really changing the conversation to the things that you can't do. But the things that you can do, are the way to go. Are the way to really kind of have that mindset of like, okay, maybe I can't do this, but I can do that. Like, for my like my neck that when I was talking about the beginning. Okay, I can't keep traveling with my this neck pain. But what I can do is just say, alright, I have to re re leave a little bit of my suitcase room for the pillow that helps me, and then I can travel wherever I want. And that's, that's not a huge imposition. So I think it's trying to change your focus from the things that feel like are lost or painful to the things that you feel like, you can still do, even if there's minor tweaks you have to make along the way.
Yeah, and I love that if you think about it, it's just a, it's a state of having an awareness, acceptance, and then choosing to do something differently. Which I think empowers it empowers us in our wellness, and it keeps our life expansive, right We don't let those those aches in the hips, or those aches in the neck stop us from doing the things we really want to do. We just sorta it's not even circumventing it, it's coming up with a different solution, so we have more expansion. So I think that's really an important part. Because I know that when pain is in the body, it's easy to let that kind of lead the show and lead our choices and lead how they show up. So I really thank you for sharing that important tidbit right there. And so I have to ask you, how can our listeners find out more? You've already given us so much great tips today. But how can we find out more about your offerings, and even people become a part of your community, How to Live Without Pain, or How to Move Without Pain?
I tried to make it as easy as possible. So you can find me everywhere at HowtoMoveWithoutPain. That's where I am on Instagram. That's where I am on Facebook. And that's the name of my website. And every week, I publish another article about anything from like, Why does your shoulder hurt when you put on a jacket? Why does you know what is psoriatic arthritis, aging tips. So there's always information that I have there. And then I try and highlight it on, on on Facebook and Instagram.
And I have to say you do an astonishing job on Instagram. I love following you on there. Like I say, I think you're a reels really hit home. I feel like you're talking to me. And you give me perspective and you give me hope. And just today, with the idea of accepting what is, choose something different. So you can be expansive, being adaptable that way. And then also finding ways to move that just makes sense in your body. So you can relieve that tension and get those joints going again. I mean, to me, that ends the conversation with hope. And I'm grateful for that. And I think people need that message that there are things we can do. And they're more accessible than we may believe when we're in the moment. So I really appreciate you for that. And so on our last question here as we wrap it up, Meghan, I have to ask you, how do you define zest in your life?
I was thinking about this earlier, and I think zest in my life is feeling like I'm touching a little bit of everything. So I'm doing a little bit of work. I'm doing a little bit of something that I like. I'm doing a little bit of family time. I'm getting my activity in. And it's feeling more well-rounded, and quote unquote balanced in a way. Rather than saying great, I sat down and I did all the stuff I needed to do at my computer, and then, you know, I didn't move. So my back is achy or my kids have been asking to play for an hour. So it's a little bit of everything throughout the day or add in pieces of the day. And that's really what I think provides me the most zest in my life.
Oh, I love that. And I feel like you personified zest so nicely, because that's a just a little bit of touch, right? So it makes a huge impact on the overall experience. So bam, I love that. Well, Meghan, thank you so much for being here today. I know that our listeners got a wealth of information. I also think that they got a dash of hope, too. And I love that you have programs that they can jump into right away, that's accessible to them so they can start moving their bodies and feeling better. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and your time. So grateful to have you here.
You're welcome. Thanks for having me, Ericka.
I appreciate your presence and holding space for my passion of helping women rediscover the essence of who they are meant to be so they may live their life by chosen authenticity. If you enjoyed this episode, please like, subscribe and share with someone that could use a little zest in their life today. Keep the good energy going by following me Ericka Bell on Instagram and LinkedIn at TheZestfulMovement. You're invited to sign up for our weekly newsletter that will help you become a part of our Zesty Crew as you stay connected to the conversations. This will also allow you to gain access to some monthly special offerings created with you in mind. Go to www.TheZestfulMovement.com. Until next time, please do keep it Zesty.