As a Sports Medicine certified Orthopedic Surgeon in practice for the last 18 years, Dr. Scott Quisling shares his views on staying healthy as we age, particularly dubbed for his fellow “Mature Athletes” after observing several recurring themes in his practice over the years.
As one of the top Orthopaedic Surgery Centers in the country, Resurgens Orthopaedics deals with athletes of all ages, including those you might call “mature.” For many athletes, changes in attitudes and abilities don’t match pace with the aging process, leading to injuries. For example, an athletic basketball move that was once routine could become a trip to the doctor’s office for a mature athlete. If you’re getting older but your competitive spirit hasn’t diminished, here are a few tips you can apply to your fitness routine that can prevent injury and ensure you stay healthy enough to play another game tomorrow.
Keep Your Weight in Check
The more you weigh the more punishment your joints will have to withstand. Research suggests that every pound you lose takes 4 pounds of pressure off the joints in your knees, ankles, spine, and hips. For athletes, keeping your weight under control is crucial to protecting your joints, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with early arthritis, which progresses more quickly the more you weigh. Your weight can even affect your ability to get necessary operations like knee replacements, as the risk of complications increases greatly the more you weigh. If you’re gaining weight as you age, we encourage you to take steps to get it under control, for the sake of your joints.
Adjust Your Workout
As you get older, continuing to do the same exercises may not be appropriate. Running is a great example, as this is considered a high impact form of cardio that can be murder on your joints. If you’re looking to stay in great shape as you age, you might want to consider finding low-impact exercises like biking, elliptical, rowing, or swimming. You could even try something new like yoga or Pilates!
Act Your Age
It may be difficult to accept for mature athletes but your body simply can’t take the same kind of punishment at age 40 as it could at age 20. If you’re experiencing pain after finishing your third tennis match of the day, you might want to consider dialing it back a bit and giving yourself more time to recover than in the past. You don’t have to give up the sport you love, just enjoy it in moderation and make responsible choices as you train and practice.
Watch Out for Warning Signs
Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. In mature athletes, back, shoulder, and knee pain are some of the most common early indicators of bigger problems. While over-the-counter pain relievers may be able to carry you through minor pain, it may be a good time to visit your doctor and ask about specific exercises you can do to strengthen those commonly-injured muscles like the rotator cuff, relieving pain and decreasing the chance of future injuries. Of course, if you experience severe pain, numbness, weakness, loss of balance, or difficulty walking, it’s best to schedule an appointment right away to find out if it’s something more serious.
Ask about New Types of Treatments
At Resurgens Orthopaedics, we’re at the forefront of sports medicine research. One treatment that’s showing a lot of promise is the isolation of platelet-rich plasma from you own blood which are then injected into the injury site, spurring your body’s own healing factors to spring into action. These exciting new treatments could be a big help to your athletic activities, so don’t be afraid to ask your doctor what’s out there.
No matter what your sport of choice, you won’t be able to play if you’re injured. Mature athletes need to be especially aware of this fact and consider changing how they train and how frequently they play. With a little moderation and some responsible choices, you could keep playing well into your golden years, so don’t let your determination and work ethic become your enemy. And don’t be afraid to ask the sports medicine experts at Resurgens Orthopaedics about the special considerations you need to be making as a mature athlete. Good luck, and we’ll see you on the court, field, or wherever else it is you choose to play!