Injury Prevention for Athletes Over 40

Anyone over the age of 40, wherever they fall on the activity spectrum — ranging from the weekend warrior to dedicated athlete — knows that injuries happen often and sometimes, they don’t go away so easily.

Physical therapists see many patients in that age group who have goals of getting back to doing their favorite activities. And being over 40 doesn’t mean you have to be less active or deal with aches, pains, and injuries. What these patients need to do is commit to a year-round regimen that can keep them doing what they love.

To people who want to take part in their sport regularly but who don’t want to put in the time with the off-the-field preparation work, Sean Roach (one of the co-owners of Tensegrity Physical Therapy) asks them one question: “Do you have the time to be off for three months?”

Roach says that’s about how long rehabilitation can take for certain injuries. Roach quickly lists three steps everyone should take that will help them remain active for many years:

1) Twice-a-week strength training

2) Regularly using a foam roller to massage muscle groups

3) Employing “active” stretching techniques that engage different muscles.

But strength training is the critical element. Muscles are shock absorbers, motors, warehouses for energy, and home bases for the forces of resistance that battle illness, too. “Muscles are the key,” he said.

Roach asks clients if they participate in sports to actually be competitive or to have fun and stay in shape. If it is because they are passionate about their sport and they want to compete, at Tensegrity, we can help develop a plan to do that. If sports are just a way to have fun, move around, and stay in shape, sometimes we recommend that these patients find other activities to mix in that put less stress on injury-prone areas yet still allow them to take part in their favorite sport.

Lampman, an active runner, noticed immediate improvement once she got on a strength program from Tensegrity. We helped her discover that her left hamstring pain was due to weakness in her feet and ankles, so her Tensegrity physical therapists developed a plan to help her strengthen her leg muscles.

The simple fact is that weekend warriors — those who only hit the basketball or tennis court, run a 10-kilometer race, play 18 holes of golf with little or zero training the other five days of the week — are regularly gambling with getting hurt.

It’s critical, for the 40-and-older crowd to pay attention to the signals their bodies are sending them. “Listening to your body…. You have to listen.”

The original article featured in The Register-Guard by Jim Murez can be found here.