You are probably thinking that sports injuries are the least of your problems, but most of us sports enthusiasts tend to be in denial about what we can and can’t do on the playing field. I am a good example of this. I know I should slow down when it comes to fun and games, but every year I show up on the courts and push myself well past my limits. I continue to take tennis lessons through the parks department because I want to play with people of all ages. I am not ready to play with just older people. Of course I pay the price with all sorts of aches and pains. When I go to the doctor, I am more likely to ask if she can’t do something to fix my painful hands, feet, and elbows than about non sports related issues.
I don’t want to you to think that just because you are older you should give up sports. Physical activity is important to overall health and well-being. It is hard to admit that it is time to adapt our fitness programs to our changing bodies. I will be the first to admit that many sports injuries happen because we fail to use plain old common sense when we go out there.
Sports medicine isn’t just for young people. Don’t be shy about asking your doctor how to prevent and manage injuries. You are not alone. Baby Boomers are more active than their predecessors and are likely to stay that way. The goal of sports medicine for older people is to help them recover from their injuries and return them to full activity. We cannot afford to let a sedentary lifestyle take over.
If you love sports and can’t see giving them up anytime soon you don’t necessarily have to. Many older adults, particularly if they played sports when they were younger, would like to continue. Age alone should not prevent you from engaging in a variety of physical activities. The main difference is that you don’t heal as quickly so be mindful of your limitations. Injuries, illness, or lack of opportunity can keep you from enjoying your favorite pastime. It is common knowledge that being active can prevent or postpone many of the afflictions of age, but you have to work within your own particular parameters. Listen to your body and don’t push it past the point of no return.
Dr. Elizabeth Smoots, in an article for The Herald (Tuesday, May 22, 2012) reminds us that a balanced exercise program is good for us, but she also touches on some of the down sides. We need to be careful because we have less muscle mass, we aren’t as flexible as we used to be and our joints and tendons are stiffer. Sorry about that. It is sad but true. We are once again reminded about warming up and stretching, easing into activity slowly, taking lessons so that we are doing things the right way, and buying good equipment. You may think you will look funny but please wear all of the protective gear available in order to protect life and limb. Dr. Smoots has a regular column and gives common sense advice on a variety of topics and this one is no exception. If you don’t follow her column in the newspaper you can visit her website at (www.drsmoots.com).