Are you more prone to injury as you age?
As we age, humans in general will experience a change in particular functions of the body to a certain degree. Athletes, active individuals and your more sedentary individuals are more prone to injury as they age and take longer to heal, here’s why:
Maximum heart rate decreases
This means that we have a decrease in maximum cardiac output (less blood is pumped around the body by the heart). This limits performance in aerobic activity in particular and due to the blood flow not being as efficient as when younger, this can result in increased healing time.
Overall lung capacity decreases
As we age, our lungs’ efficiency with moving oxygen from the air to the bloodstream decreases. This can limit muscular strength and endurance.
Reaction time decreases
Decreased cardiac output can lead to decreased reaction time. This affects the body’s ability to make quick, minute adjustments when playing sport, running etc. which is important for preventing injuries. As reaction time decreases, out risk of injury increases with injuries such as sprains, strains and other musculoskeletal injuries.
Bone mass and muscle strength decrease
As we age bone mass and strength can both decrease which can lead to less physical capability, performance, flexibility and coordination.
Does this mean that everyone will injure themselves when they age? Definitely not. You can decrease your risk of injury by engaging in a physical exercise routine. Whether you engage in a strength training program, aerobic program or specific sports, you can decrease your risk if you target your risk factors correctly. A physiotherapist can discuss this with you and help to put a program in place that will work for you and help to achieve your goals.
Here is our client James working on improving his strength and preventing recurrence of injuries. He competes in Dragon Boating.
Here are some general non-individualised tips for decreasing your risk of obtaining an injury:
Exercise the recommended amount per week
For general middle-aged adults, the recommended exercise frequency is 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.
Warm up effectively
Ensuring you warm up correctly can reduce your injury risk. This is particularly important before going out for a long run or before a strength training session. Warm ups can include a brisk walk or body weight exercises to get the appropriate joints moving for the strength training session.
Ensure you have good form and control
Your risk of injury is much higher if you are not controlling the movements correctly or using the correct form. Failing to complete an exercise correctly can result in overload of other joints or structures and can then in turn lead to injury. If you are not sure about this, seeking advice from a physiotherapist is recommended.
Do not increase your load too quickly
Injuries can commonly occur from increasing your exercise regime too quickly. For example, if you usually run 2x per week for 30 minutes and suddenly go up to 5x per week for 45 minutes, your risk significantly increases. This is the same if you generally squat 20kg for 3 sets of 8 reps and then suddenly increase to 40kg for 3 sets of 8 reps.
If you do obtain an injury, get on top of it quickly
With most injuries we see in the clinic, the quicker we see you after the injury, generally the shorter recovery you will have.
If you are middle-aged and are struggling with injuries or would like to start an exercise program of some kind, get in contact with us and we can book you in for a Free Initial Assessment with one of our physiotherapists to have a conversation and get you started on your health journey.