The aging athlete
We have all seen them – the distinguished looking man or woman with perfect build, erect posture and agile movements. Without anyone telling us, we assume that person is an athlete. Then there is the other person, still famous, but with bulging abdomen, stooping shoulders and imperfect gait. He is also an athlete, however his/her body shows greater signs of aging due to inadequate exercise or illness.
Some athletes are able to remain competitive well into their 50s, however for them, the risk of injury is always imminent. As we age, wear and tear begins to take a toll on our bodies. Our muscles become less elastic, our joints less flexible, our reaction times less precise. It is true that exercise slows the aging process, however very vigorous training can expose the older athlete to the risk of overuse injuries.
The person in the second example above might be a former athlete, someone who was very active in his/her younger years, but has now slowed and his body is showing signs of deconditioning. This athlete may suffer from degenerative conditions such as tendonitis, bursitis and arthritis. These painful illnesses may further deter the athlete from resuming the former active lifestyle.
In order to remain active and enjoy the benefits that exercise brings, even in the later years, one needs to keep moving. As your physiotherapist, we can design a program to suit any level of fitness or condition. You do not have to abandon physical activity any longer because of pain or stiff joints. Weight training not only strengthens muscles, but bones as well. Stretching exercises will increase your flexibility and prevent overuse injuries. Aquatic therapy, yoga and tai chi can do wonders for the aging athlete who needs to scale down activity while maintaining fitness.
Another action you can take is to switch activities for a while to allow your joints to rest and recover. For example, if you used to run, you can switch to cycling, swimming or walking. These provide the aerobic workout you need for cardiovascular fitness, so important to the aging athlete. If your body is beginning to show the signs of aging and you are worried that your days of active sport may be over, come in and speak to us. We are here to help.