Ageing Athlete – How to Prevent Orthopaedic Injuries?

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By Dr. Krishan Mohan, Physiotherapy

With age, the human body is prone to a lot of wear and tear and this is true for athletes. Whether field or track events, there are certain parts of the musculoskeletal system, which are prone to injury.  The ankles, heels, knees, elbows, wrists, necks, etc. are some common areas prone to injury. It is important to understand that the routine (be it athletic or regular gym workout) needs to be modified, taking into account the overall health status and the changes that body is undergoing as a result of age. What was possible for you at the age of 30 may not be feasible 10 years later. You might have to reduce the intensity of workout or build in more time to achieve the same results.

With age, the heart rate decreases, muscle mass is lost, bone movement is not as agile as it used to be and elasticity and flexibility of the bones and joints is reduced. Most importantly, with injury, tissue regeneration and healing is delayed, so getting injured will keep you away from your routine longer than you might be prepared for. Keep the following points in mind and modify your routine accordingly to prevent injuries:

  1. Slow down: While you don’t have to stop workout as a result of ageing, you definitely need to slow down. Choose activities that are not hard on your joints and don’t overdo weights. You need to recalibrate the outcomes, for instance, to not achieve muscle mass, but to maintain it. Try swimming, moderate weights or walking instead of intense aerobics and heavy weights. Make sure you set a target and focus towards it, like strength training to maintain the bone and muscle mass.
  2. Equipment: Use proper equipment including footwear and clothing. This will ensure unwanted damage to the feet (reduces sprain, strain, ligament tear, etc. and other structures).
  3. Lifestyle: Altering your lifestyle to suit your overall age is very important.  Eat a well-balanced diet and at regular periods. You may be used to a lot more junk earlier, but it can be the case as you age. Move to a heart-healthy diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish oils and Omega-3 fatty oils. Reduce whites including white rice, sugar and salt. Reduce your caffeine intake, stick to 1 to 2 cups per day. Ensure you get 8 hours of sleep and stick to a schedule as much as possible. Quit smoking and alcohol or keep it in moderation. Hydration is another aspect you should not ignore. The body needs more water to keep the tissues elastic with age. The body is highly resilient and with these simple steps, you can be in great shape.