ACHES and pains can hit hardest in our sixties. But many health experts believe 60 is the new 40! After all just look at 63-year-old model Christie Brinkley or  actor Liam Neeson who still plays the energetic hardman at 62.

Over the past six months the Echo and Gazette have been featuring ‘the back story’-  a campaign started by Arif Soomro, founder of the Cliffs Chiropractic Clinic, in Westcliff, to highlight the simple steps we can all take to get fitter and healthier and to stay that way. Today we’ve reached the sixties. EMMA PALMER finds our more...

Brentwood Live:

US model Christie Brinkley puts her youthful looks down to a vegan diet and plenty of exercise 

To fully enjoy life whatever your age, you need a healthy body, which is why Essex chiropractor, Arif Soomro, launched the Back Story campaign.

The campaign aims to help us make positive changes - small or large - which will boost our energy levels, increase the feeling of well-being and aid mobility.

When Sue Willis-Green of Rochford turned 60 she booked her dream holiday in Canada. She was going hiking in the Rockies and she couldn’t be more excited.

Sue had been suffering with lower back pain for six years, but this had now spread into her leg causing pain and numbness for the past five months. Otherwise Sue was fit and healthy and looking forward to the trip.

“I’d had back pain for so long, I just got on with it,” she explained.

“But a few months before the holiday I lifted a box of books and the pain just shot through me, it was terrible.I couldn’t even walk. I needed immediate attention.”

After recommendation from a friend, Sue booked an appointment at Cliffs Chiropractic Clinic in Westcliff to see Paz Nandhra for a consultation.

Her objective was to get better, so she could enjoy her holiday to the Rockies. After a thorough examination and digital X-rays, Paz didn’t just get Sue mobile again, but was able to find the underlying cause of her six-year-old backache.

The sharp pain was due to a compressed sciatic nerve, but Sue’s lower back pain was caused by a leg length discrepancy and osteoarthritis which, over time, had led to a mild curvature of the spine (scoliosis).

These conditions can all cause excessive, abnormal or uneven mechanical joint loading.

The sciatic nerve runs from the back of the pelvis, through the buttocks, and down both legs ending at the feet.

Sue was experiencing pain and numbness in her leg because of the compression of the sciatic nerve at the base of the back from joint loading.

Brentwood Live:

Sue made it to Canada and had the trip of a lifetime after combating her joint pains

Paz said: “Once we located the specific areas that were not functioning optimally, we used a combination of medical acupuncture, and chiropractic techniques to adjust and free up specific areas in the body that were unbalanced.

“This would help the body initiate the healing process - all that was needed was time and commitment.

“Naturally Sue was very concerned about being fit enough for her trip.

“So I created a treatment plan to reduce pain and restore normal joint function and muscle balance.

“This was to be followed by a plan to restore functional independence and tolerance to normal activities, and then a plan to stay well.”

Over the next three weeks, Sue gradually started to feel better until one day the pain was gone.

Not only did Sue have an amazing hiking holiday in Canada, she’s now planning another walking holiday for this Christmas - this time a bit closer to home, in the Mendips in Somerset.

Sue will continue to have maintenance treatment at Cliffs Chiropractic, where Toby Simons, the clinic’s sports therapist is also helping to readjust her pelvis through massage and exercise.”

They say 40 is the new 20, so does that mean 60 is the new 40?

Why not?,” says Arif, owner and founder of the clinic.

Brentwood Live:

Expert Paz Nandhra

“If you’ve stayed active and eaten a healthy and varied diet, you’ll still be getting the most out of life and you may even feel healthier than you did years ago.

“Yes, you might still open the fridge and wonder why, and get up at least twice a night to go to the loo, but that’s all part of growing up!

“What you need to be aware of now is osteoarthritis; this is where the loss of cartilage around your joints, especially the hip and knee, leads to aches and pains and loss of mobility.

“Sometimes it can’t be avoided as it may be genetic, but this condition can be successfully managed through treatment, nutrition and supplements.

“Loss of bone density, or osteoporosis, is also a natural part of ageing, but for some of us this happens much faster than is normal and needs to be treated as this condition increases the risk of fractures.”

Arif advises that the loss of muscle mass - irrespective of your weight - will also have an impact your general health because it reduces strength and mobility.

It starts in your late 30s and 40s but once you hit 60, the process accelerates dramatically, doubling from 0.5 per cent a year to 1 per cent, then 2 per cent by the age of 70, 4 per cent at 80 and so on.

“If you haven’t exercised regularly,” added Arif.

“Don’t panic, because the good news is that you can do something about it, and it’s called ‘resistance training’. This involves contracting your muscles as hard as you can, through weight-lifting for example, and is ideal for preventing age-related muscle loss.

“If exercise has never been your thing, try making it part of your life for, say, 30 minutes twice a week, building up to five times a week.

“We know that improving our physical well-being helps mental resilience too, so taking regular exercise and getting fitter will mean you stay more alert and be as quick on the uptake as you used to be; you’ll also be in a better position to manage illness or accidents.

"It’s a question of balance.”

Arif added: “If you have to lean on the wall or sit down to put your socks on, then you might want to start thinking about exercises that will improve your balance too.

"Tai Chi, Chi Gong, yoga or Pilates are excellent for improving core strength and balance, and this in turn will help prevent overbalancing which leads to falls."