Why it's taking us longer to recover after exercise

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The older you get, the bigger the challenge for your body to recover after a workout. The longer it takes you to recover, the more you suspect your body is telling you it can't handle it.

Mature woman at front of exercise class

It can feel as though 'the decks are stacked' against you as you get older, says endurance sports trainer Joe Friel, author of the Training Bible books. He lists lower levels of testosterone, losing muscle mass, increased risk of conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis, a greater propensity for weight gain, lost soft tissue elasticity and an increased likelihood of injury as just some of the obstacles that make it harder for the body to recover following exercise.

The good news is: it's not necessarily age but slowing down that might be the problem. In fact, Friel argues that, "cutting back on training with age only exacerbates the problems."

The thing is, the longer it takes for recovery, the longer you nurse sores and pains, and the more tempting it becomes to swap a session for something more sedentary.

But don't resign yourself to a life of sitting around just yet. Staying active not only keeps you fit and healthy, regular exercise strengthens the muscles around your joints, increases blood flow, which helps remove some of the toxins associated with inflammation and, research shows, even increases your pain tolerance.

Not exercising "can lead to loss of joint motion, stiffness, and muscle weakness and tightness. These problems can worsen fatigue and can cause joints to become unstable," warns occupational therapist Maureen R Gecht-Silver.

The experts are agreed: exercise is vital when you need help reducing soreness in muscles and pain in your joints. Easy to say, but how do you get your body to listen? What if the pain is just too much?

One solution you may already be using is taking anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and diclofenac, but be warned, they merely mask the pain, and confusing your body is not the ideal way to develop a healthy exercise and recovery regime. In fact, says Deepak S Patel in the Rheumatology Network, "there is evidence to suggest that long-term use of NSAIDs for managing fracture pain and inflammation carries the risk of impaired bone healing."

Senior Woman Resting After Exercising In Park

Instead, try these safe and handy aids to help speed up recovery and leave you feeling fighting fit for your next session:

Foam rollers are long cylindrical objects with smooth or raised ridges that come in various densities, allowing you to give yourself your very own deep tissue massage. The idea is you find your trigger points and roll onto these areas, using your own body weight to control the intensity.

You know the one about the benefits of salt baths (the magnesium and sulfates in Epsom salts is absorbed through the skin to provide relief and reduce inflammation), but did you know a tubful of ice works magic in relieving joint and muscle pain? Get your body used to the intensity of ice by starting with ice packs applied to the affected area (you may as well treat yourself to the hot and cold pain relief method by alternating with a hot therapeutic gel pack).

Research offers 'promising evidence that acupuncture can help with arthritis symptoms,' admits the Arthritis Foundation. It works by relaxing tight muscles and simulating the release of endorphins, which help the body to deal with pain.

When you start feeling the wear and tear of joints, there's nothing like applying a gel that goes further than masking pain. The newly launched FLEXISEQ Active takes a fresh, drug-free approach to the problem by delivering lubricating constituents straight into joints. This helps to restore joint function, while relieving pain and improving mobility. Safe for long-term use and free from the side effects associated with drugs, it's the most effective way to remind your body that it's nowhere near its sell-by-date yet.

Discover more about the benefits of going drug free as people who have used FLEXISEQ tell their own story.