Our bodies change as the years pass, and a common age-related complaint of women over 40 is a decline in mobility or range of motion. Pain may also come in new forms and stays longer than usual. When injury strikes, what once kept us sore for just a couple of days may take weeks of recovery and a trip to the doctor. But aging shouldn’t dampen drive or dedication. Instead, the way we approach athletic endeavors must be modified to help prevent injury.
Genetics, physique, and environment all play a part in the aging body’s movement and mobility – the body’s ability to move independently and safely. Gradually, daily tasks and chores become more difficult. Your favorite activity induces more pain. Even worse, this could be the first sign of further functional decline – a fate no one wants to face.
An increased risk of injury becomes a fact of life as we approach 40 and beyond. The benefits of exercising still apply, and we know it’s important, but now our activity comes with potential new maladies we have to take on. So how do you stay strong and active, without pushing yourself into painful, even dangerous, injuries? Here are some tips on maintaining fitness, sans injury.
Don’t do too much, too fast. You’ve got high expectations – we understand! We do, too. Working smarter, not harder has to be the name of your game now. You have to respect your changing body. As mobility, strength, and intensity levels change, so must your fitness routine. Start small and slow, and work your way up.
Take time to prepare and condition your body outside of your regular activity. Warming up before jumping in, and cooling down when you’ve finished your workout are also vital. Your muscles are tighter and shorter, so stretching is more important now that it has ever been. For some guidance, check out our Warm Up and Cool Down Fitness Programs.
Once you’ve jumped in, listen to your body and respect its limits. As we age, no pain means we can continue to gain. When your body sends hints like aches and soreness, take note. Be attentive to these little cries for attention. You’ll know when you’re ready to safely take an exercise up a notch.
One of the best things you can do to respond to pain is rest. This is a tough one because we all want to get back on the horse as soon as possible, but your body needs time to heal. If your sprained ankle is constantly nagging at you, it’s time to give it a little extra care. Take the couple extra days of rest and you’ll find yourself unsaddling less down the road.
You may even find it beneficial to extend any built in recovery periods in your workout regimen. Avoiding adequate recovery periods sets your body up for even worse injuries. Give your body plenty of time to replenish and repair.
You may also find that performing certain types of exercises can help prevent injury. Strengthening exercises, for example. A body with stronger muscles, tendons, and ligaments, can utilize proper form more easily. Maintaining proper form while exercising offers an extra layer of protection for joints and bones, decreasing your risk of injury. Core strength is one of the most efficient ways of achieving this goal.
Getting fit or staying in shape poses different challenges once we hit our 40 mark, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Follow these guidelines for keeping your body injury-free and check out our site for Fitness Programs and guidance tailored to women like you!