Let’s dive into the topic of injury prevention!!!! Gosh I just get all geeky when we talk about bodies!!! So, what can we do in our lives to help avoid injuries as we age? What are some things that we can do to keep us moving and mobile when we are older?
I spoke with Lauren Shroyer about all of this in this week’s podcast. Lauren Shroyer, MS, ATC, is the Senior Director of Product Development at the American Council on Exercise. She specializes in working with clients, both athletes and non-athletes, who are struggling with chronic injuries and conditions.
Injury prevention is Lauren’s JAM! So how do you prevent them, how do we work around injuries and how do we actually stop working our way into an injury?
Stop and ask yourself a few questions, whether we are injured or not. An athlete or not.
● What does the injury mean, and how do you continue to stay active and reach goals?
● How do I maintain my active lifestyle on an ongoing basis?
● How do we stay in the game? I want to be as active as I can for as long as I can. How can I do this?
● I want to be as active as I can for as long as I can. How can I do this?
These are things you might be curious about but the one thing you have to remember is it is so important to try and stay active all throughout your life. The more active we are, our bodies adapt to that activity. Therefore, you have more energy and more stamina, and you become stronger. That continues throughout your life regardless of your age. Being active for your entire life is essential to remain at a high level of activity as you age.
Barring any degenerative muscular disease, if we take that out of the equation, we do have the ability to guide the way of the active path we take based on the activity that we put in today as well as the habits we build today and the consistency we maintain as we get older. My 2 favorite things…. Habits and Consistency.
Exercising consistently is so important because exercise is progressive. When we do things on a regular basis, you will increase your strength and capability progressively. When you exercise intermittently your body doesn’t understand that it needs to develop that skill.
If you, do it consistently, your body has wonderful mechanisms to identify with what it needs to do and add more muscle tissue. Which means stronger tendons and ligaments to help prevent injury!
So, what are tendons and ligaments and how do they relate to our injuries and injury prevention?
A tendon connects muscle to bone. The Patellar Tendon is in front of the knee and that connects it to the tibia. Tendons are connecting big muscles in front of thigh, top half of leg to bottom of leg. And every muscle has a tendinous attachment to your bone. So, the most frequent injury is tendonitis. Inflammation of that tendon tissue. And this tends to frequently happen from overuse or over working it.
Now the ligaments. Ligamentous tissue holds your bones to your bones! So, an ankle sprain is a ligamentous tissue injury. The ankle is a mobile joint and moves around a lot and if we didn’t have the ligaments, it would fall apart! Ligaments hold bones to its form to help you run through your range of motions. Ligament injuries are usually more acute more frequently and most people have had at least one of these types of injuries.
What is the longest injury to recover from? Something that happens with my tendon or my ligaments?
The injury cycle is dependent upon the degree and severity of an injury. If it is a smaller degree with no tear, those injuries tend to come back pretty quickly. But any level of tear all the way up to full tear of tendon or ligament, those come back very slowly and sometimes require surgical intervention.
When you have an injury, your body needs to go through a healing process and that includes laying down scar tissue. The process of repairing is if you are continuing to overwork the area while it’s being repaired, you will re-injure the area while it’s laying down that scar tissue. Then it will continue to take longer. Even small injuries can take a long time if they are overworking that area.
You should however do some kind of movement while the body is repairing it. By doing this, you are helping the body to understand how strong the scar tissue should be, how elastic it should be, and how much scar tissue I need to hold it in place. Also, really importantly, do not mute the pain of an injury with meds so that you can push through it! The pain is our body’s way of telling us to slow down so it can heal. And if we push past that pain, it is not going to heal properly.
Three things that I hear interchanged all over the interwebs.
Those 3 things play into how we throw up the weight, how we move and how we do things. So, what are they and how do they work into what we are talking about?
Mobility is active movement. What is our range of motion in active movement? How much can we move safely? With this we are looking for optimum mobility or what might your goal be for that? Post injury? Post covid? How do we get from current mobility or more of an optimum mobility? This is all about moving actively. Lunge is a great example of an active movement. How far and how deep into it can you get?
Now your flexibility is different because it is usually what we talk about in a static position. Lunges and splits might indicate flexibility. When we talk about this in someone who can’t do splits, we can talk about what it looks like to be flexible, to move our limbs into a certain position. In an ecstatic position we can do a stretch and it might increase our flexibility… But this does not have to always translate into mobility.
Because we lack stability! If we lack strength in stability our body will stop. Some of us may be able to do a split but not a deep lunge. Because your body doesn’t feel strong enough to go into the weight bearing position of a lunge, it will stop you because there is a lack of stability. Without flexibility we can’t get into the lunge either… So, as you can see, these 3 work together as opposed to being separate.
Many of us lose our mobility when we age because we haven’t really worked within that full range of motion, and we become like the tin man. So, we need to do exercises that challenge our mobility and challenge our movement. That way you are strengthening in a stretched position. Mobility work isn’t sexy. I get it, but mobility will give you longevity over time!! So….. If you aren’t working at it over time, you will lose that mobility!! When you continue working on it, your body will adapt to maintaining it.
When you exercise, this helps to strengthen bones, so when your bones are strong, this will help to prevent any fractures. Exercising is an important part of aging gracefully my friends. And because women lose bone tissue earlier than men it is just as important for us women to work on this and exercise.
And ladies, it is not too late to start! Just when you do, be mindful, check up on how you feel and do a body scan. Everything counts and everything adds up in movement, so just get up and get moving to feel good, to prevent injuries, and to give yourself the gift of being able to enjoy life as you age!
What is one thing that makes you feel magical?
Especially since I have gotten older, I find more magic in the small things. This past year has given me even more emphasis on that. Those small things for me today are my habits. Ending my workday and going for a walk. I love to be outdoors. Removing my headphones so I can listen to the birds. Noticing the world around me. Then coming home and having dinner with my family.
The end of every workday brings me back to what is important to me in my life. And no matter how good or bad that day was at work, it doesn’t define me or my life. It is the exercise that clears my head, the connection with nature clears my head and the time with my family grounds me.
Now, this is what makes me feel magical. The small things.
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