Aches And Pains: Battling Those Baby Boomer Blues
If you’re past a certain birthday – let’s call it “40” – you’ve noticed that post-exercise soreness lasts a little longer. Okay, maybe more than a little longer; maybe a few more days.
And for committed weekend warriors, Mondays can get tougher and tougher as they age.
As the Baby Boom generation enters retirement age, they are fitter than any generation before them. Several years ago, the New York Times pointed out that Boomers are the first generation that grew up exercising, and that many of them refuse to give in to the concept of slowing down. That has led to them being the first generation to need so much orthopedic care. The American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons reported in 2010 that Boomers have significantly more strains and sprains than other age groups.
The balance between meaningful exercise and injury-causing exercise is a delicate one. Exercise and staying fit is good, particularly as you grow older; it keeps you young. Unless, of course, it doesn’t. Overzealous weekend warriors often don’t throttle down their workouts as they move into middle age, and that can lead to slower and slower bounce backs, and even injury.
“The best defense against injury, therefore, is to stretch before participation in any sport,” says Charles Hummer III, a Crozer-Keystone orthopedic surgeon. “I recommend that athletes stretch for at least 15 to 20 minutes, focusing on all of the muscle groups that will be involved in the athlete's sport of choice.”
So it’s critical that aging athletes understand how the body ages and how they need to approach their workout. Natural changes in the way the body functions, such as decreases in bone and muscle mass and a decrease in blood flow, impact the body’s resilience by slowing the wound-healing process after injury. Genetics also play a role.
“Another key issue is weight control,” Hummer says. “Maintaining near-normal (i.e., not obese) body weight has many potential benefits, but injury risk-reduction in the ‘Boomer athlete’ is a major potential benefit.”
Your choice of activities has an influence as well. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recently reported that bicycling and basketball are the sports that result in boomers heading to the hospital most often.
Here’s what it boils down to – in order to prevent avoidable aches and serious injuries, you need to be aware of your own body and how it’s changing and, as much as you want to cling to your youth – make appropriate changes in your exercise routine. But don’t stop completely – doctors and fitness experts suggest maintaining a fitness routine and exercising at least three days a week.
Unfortunately, you’re not going to be able to run as fast, jump as high or lift as much as you could back in your college days. And that’s okay.
Crozer-Keystone Health System offers comprehensive musculoskeletal care. From conservative approaches to managing pain to spine and hand services, sports medicine, and joint replacement surgery, the physicians of the Premier/Crozer-Keystone Orthopedics Partnership will determine what plan works best for you. Appointments within 48 hours; call 1-877-CK-MOTION (1-877-256-6846) or fill out our convenient online orthopedic appointment request form.