Woman warms up

Woman warms up (Tinroof, Getty Images)

We rounded up the advice from our favorite physical therapists to make sure you never need to see one of them. Heed their top 10 tips to ward off aches and pains.

10. Sit up straight

Good posture starts from maintaining activation of your transverse abdominals (the deepest layer of your abs). If you have a sedentary lifestyle — or a typical 9-to-5 job — these muscles become less activated as you age, so your lower back loses its main support. That allows the rest of your upper body to slouch forward, applying more pressure through the lower discs of your spine. Eventually, you overload your tissue, which can lead to system overload and failure — or a herniated disc, arthritis or muscle strain. So keep your shoulders back over your hips to maintain the alignment.

— J. Alex McKinney, physical therapist, director of services at Marathon Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine in Massachusetts

9. Change your running shoes

Every 300 miles, you should replace your running shoes. They're designed to minimize impact to your muscles and joints — but after the mileage, the wear breaks down the sole of the shoe, while time breaks down the integrity of rubber material (think of a rubber band hanging around a door knob in the kitchen that becomes dry and brittle after time and easily breaking with stretch). If you don't count miles, aim to replace your shoes every six to nine months. If you start to feel more soreness or achiness in your knees or joints, it's a good time to get new shoes.

— J. Alex McKinney

8. Ice it

Most aches and pains are helped by ice. For the first two weeks, alternate between ice for 10 minutes and heat for 20 minutes, ending on ice. If it still hurts for more than two weeks, see your doctor for additional options.

— Holly Moriarty, physical therapist with Haymarket Physical Therapy & Chiropractic in Virginia

7. Don't shop till you drop

When you're on a shopping spree, remember to carry an equal weight of packages in both arms. This will place less strain on your neck and lower back.

— Alanna Pokorski, physical therapist with Sports Physical Therapy of New York

6. Get grounded

Most Americans get in and out of a car many times a day, so how you do that is very important. When getting out of the car, turn your entire body so that both feet are on the ground before you stand up. This will place less strain on your lower back.

— Alanna Pokorski

5. Do ear exercises

Having problems with your balance? Your inner ear equilibrium center can weaken over time if it is not challenged, just like your muscles do. Moving your head stimulates your vestibular system, which improves your balance. Make an effort to do this several times a day to see an improvement in your balance.

— Beth Cook, physical therapist with Matt Smith Physical Therapy in Las Vegas