Ah, the glory days…

Though I hate to keep digging up the past (think big hair and leotards), I need to address one more aspect of the good old days that should move to memory lane for good: our workouts.

I’ve heard it too many times. People try to do the same workouts they did in high school and all they have to show for it is aches and pains. Often these are the folks I call “weekend warriors” who are too busy during the week so they cram all their exercise into the weekend. It’s no wonder they’re sore all the time! This activity schedule makes you more prone to injury.
Injury prevention is an extremely important part of F.A.C.E.-ing your future. In chapter 11 of Fitness After 40, Second Edition, I tell you all about maximizing performance and preventing injury.

Be smart about injury prevention

No matter what your age, skill level, or activity of choice is, you need to take these simple precautions to prevent injury.

  • Don’t be a weekend warrior. Try to maintain moderate activity all week.
  • Do your sport right. Using proper form can reduce overuse injuries (i.e. stress fractures, tendinitis, etc.).
  • Gear up. Wear your sport’s proper safety gear.
  • Increase your exercise level gradually. Avoid the Terrible Toos: too much, too soon, too often, with too little rest.
  • Work your whole body. Incorporate strength training, cardio, flexibility, and equilibrium exercises.
  • Cross-train. Spice up your routine by mixing biking, running, swimming, or whatever it is that gets your heart pumping.

Studies show that the majority of injuries in senior athletes result from overuse (mainly muscle strains and chronic tendinitis), meaning their workouts are too frequent, repetitive, and intense. As we age, our musculoskeletal tissues have a lower healing capacity and take longer to recover. So simply being active isn’t enough, we have to be smart about our physical futures as well.

Rules to live by

Being smart about injury prevention is as easy as always, always, always (did I say always?) following these four rules:

  1. Exercise intensely every other day. As I say, make it work, then let it rest.
  2. Mix it up. Again, you need to cross-train. In my mobility plan included in the book, I make sure you use more than one set of muscles for a total body workout in each circuit.
  3. Warm up first. Remember the Dynamic Stretching and Warm-Up I talked about in chapter six? The goal here is to raise your body temperature because warm muscles and tendons are less brittle. Your workout should follow this order: warm up, stretch, and turn up the intensity.
  4. Pre-hab. In other words, strengthen the most injury-prone muscle groups (leg/ankle, knee, shoulder, and lower back) before they ever get injured. Many of the exercises in chapter 8 are designed to pre-hab these groups.

In addition to these precautions and rules, chapter 11 covers everything from treating minor injuries at home and sport-specific injury prevention tips, to exercising when sick, home and doctor arthritis remedies, and much more.

Looking ahead

So, now that we’ve let go of our high school workouts, it’s time to be smarter about our workouts today to maximize performance and prevent injury tomorrow. For a complete injury prevention guide, see chapter 11 of Fitness After 40, Second Edition.

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