Surprise Injuries Are Not Just a Sign of ‘Getting Old’

by Taru Fisher on June 14, 2016

surprise knee pain - surprise injuriesThe nature of our bodies is to adapt to the postures we frequently use in moving or that we hold for long periods. So we are “exercising” our bodies as we sit, training our muscles to be tight or loose, shortened or elongated, training ourselves to sit. Then we ask our bodies to do something different: pick up a heavy piece of luggage and sling it into an overhead compartment, rake leaves for 2 hours, or move a couch. Ouch! A surprise injury. Our shoulder hurts. Our lower back hurts. Our knee hurts. “What did I do?”, we ask.

Confining ourselves to a small set of movements during the majority of the day, that’s what we did.

The fix is simple, not necessarily easy

Fortunately, our bodies readily respond to change. We can reduce or eliminate the pain with more and well designed movement.

If you have already injured some part of your body, then seeking a professional’s help (a physical therapist or a highly trained personal trainer, depending on the extent of the injury) is a wise move because just doing random exercise with no plan about what needs strengthening and what requires flexibility will only, at best, maintain the body in its unbalanced injured state or at worst make the injury worse and possibly produce more injuries.

If you have yet to injure yourself, then you are lucky and it is time to sustain that luck with an exercise plan. There are plenty of options for your time and money budgets.

Seeking advice

Is there bad advice out there from professionals? Absolutely. Does your neighbor down the street (the one who appears to be very fit) know enough to advise you? Perhaps. Do you have to spend hours in the gym to keep your body fit? No. Retraining your body to move in the way it was designed to move, moving your whole body regularly and breaking up the repetitive motion of sitting is what is most important.

Finding a physical therapist or personal trainer

Finding a physical therapist is probably easiest if you ask your doctor or a friend that used a physical therapist. I’ve found that word of mouth recommendations for physical therapists or personal trainers can quickly help you find someone that matches your needs. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is the governing body for physical therapists. Go to their website ( to find a suitable PT in your area.

Finding a personal trainer that is truly knowledgeable about injuries can be a little more difficult. There are quite a few national certifying organizations for personal trainers.

I recommend:

All of these organizations have various certifications, some that deal specifically with orthopedic injuries. Look for someone who has at least 5 years experience and has dealt with people in your age group or your specific problem. Many professionals also hold other degrees or licenses, e.g., chiropractors who are also strength and conditioning coaches or physical therapists who are also personal trainers. These multi-degreed or multi-licensed/certified individuals are often well qualified to address pain and injury rather than just exercise.

Commit to just one thing

Pick one thing you can do to put more and proper motion into your life. Commit to it for 30 days. It can be as simple (though not easy) as practicing proper sitting and standing posture. You could adopt a simple daily exercise routine. You could take the stairs, park farther from the store, the office, where you pick up the kids. However, whatever you add needs to be a simple upgrade to whatever you already do.

Exercise consistency is key to avoiding surprise injuries

Counting on our bodies to be there when we need them, to do unexpected work and not entertain an injury, is definitely something we can do. I believe, we can do this for our whole lives. Middle age or old age does not have to be a reason for pain and injury. To count on our bodies we must commit to proper life-long exercise. Put in the time and effort, it pays off in midlife and well beyond.

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Image courtesy of scottchan at

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