Why Do Our Muscles Stiffen as We Age? - NL-022
As people age, they may find it more difficult to move around in the same way as they used to and can feel limited in their range of motion. To maintain mobility later in life, it is important to remain physically active.
Early in the morning, or after having been seated for a while, a person may experience some stiffness when attempting to get out of bed. This usually dissipates once they start to move around, though it can be a bother. The cause of this sensation is due to several underlying factors.
As we get older, our bones, joints, and muscles tend to become more fragile. That feeling of stiffness is usually a sign that more effort is needed to do everyday activities.
A variety of medical conditions that are associated with ageing can lead to increased muscle rigidity. These include osteoarthritis, which is the deterioration of the cartilage in the joints; osteomalacia, a softening of bones due to vitamin D deficiency; osteoporosis, which is a decrease in bone mass that renders the bones brittle; rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammation of the joints; and an age-related decline in muscle strength called sarcopenia.
The circulation of blood may be a factor in the cause of swelling in the elderly. As people get older, their arteries become less elastic and less flexible, which can lead to blood accumulating in the feet.
The stiffness sometimes experienced when rising from a seated or recumbent position can be attributed to a deficiency of the lubricating fluid in the joints. As we move around and warm up, more synovial fluid is transmitted to the joint, thus reducing the resistance to movement and allowing for smoother articulation.
As people age naturally and healthily, the cartilage which covers the joints - particularly of the knee - begins to deteriorate. This cartilage creates a cushioning effect between bones at the joint, however, it gradually becomes thinner and less effective, which could be the cause of the stiffness felt during movement.
Due to ageing and lack of use, ligaments, tendons, and muscles become less flexible and relaxed than when we are younger. Many of the modifications to muscles, bones, and joints in older individuals are a consequence of inactivity.
Move It or Lose It
As the years go by, people often become less physically active, which is understandable. However, if physical activity is decreased drastically or stopped altogether, the age-related changes can become worse. Exercising is necessary to keep muscles strong and toned.
The density of bones can be maintained with increased stimulation. Joints should be moved regularly to minimize the sensation of rigidity. Other than muscles and joints, the heart, lungs, and circulatory system must be stimulated through exercise to keep performing at an optimal level.
One of the primary reasons for us feeling constrained or rigid is due to a variety of factors, but the best solution is to become more active. This can be accomplished in various ways.
The muscles, ligaments, and tendons of the joints must be kept mobile to stay limber and stay healthy. Resistance training is a key element in achieving this. Moving the limbs through the entire range of motion is also necessary.
The saying "move it or lose it" is highly accurate; if we don't stay active, we will start to lose our physical abilities. Exercise doesn't have to be boring; find something you enjoy doing and you'll be more likely to stick with it. Additionally, exercising with others, in a group or club, will give you more than just physical exercise; it will also benefit your mental health.