As aging adults committed to our community fitness, we are maintaining an active, athletic lifestyle. But, it’s important to recognize that there are physical changes that take place as we age, including loss of muscle mass (resulting in decreased strength); lost of elasticity in our tendons and ligament (resulting in less flexibility and range of motion); and loss of cartilage (resulting in less cushioning in the joints). Knee injuries and chronic knee pain are common complaints among our group. In light of this, here are some things you can do to prevent knee injuries, as well as what you can do if you suffer from chronic knee pain.
Take the time to warm up (and cool down)
The older we get, the less flexible our joints might be. That means the warm-up period is even more important at age 40 or 50 than it was when you were 20. If you’re going to embark in a high intensity fitness class after some time off, or setting out on your first long run or hike of the summer, than you really need to work into it slowly. Be sure you stretch and prepare your body for the activity instead of just jumping right in, which could cause an injury. Research has shown that cold muscles are more prone to injury, so it’s important to take the time to warm up. Do 5 to 10 minutes of light aerobic activity (think jumping jacks or running/walking in place) followed by a few minutes of stretching to warm up those muscles and joints to prepare them for the more strenuous activity ahead. Likewise, after your activity, take the time to cool down with 5 to 10 minutes of gentle stretching.
Take the time to take care of you.