The Baby Boomer Athlete
Are you a Baby Boomer? If you were born between the years of 1946 to 1964, you are part of the 79.1 million Boomers, comprising 29 percent of the total US population. According to the AARP, every seven seconds a Baby Boomer turns 50! And, about one-third of Americans who take part in sports activities are Boomers.
As this generation grows older, they are working harder to keep their youth and vitality, are staying active with physical activity, and unfortunately are experiencing more injuries than the generation before them.
A US Consumer Product Safety Commission report states there were 1 million sports injuries to persons between the ages of 35 and 54 in 1998. This is a 33% increase over the same statistics of 1991. While this sounds like distressing news for aging bodies, many sports-related injuries are minor aches, sprains and strains that can be treated or even prevented using self-treatment techniques. Whether you are a weekend warrior or a lifelong athlete, the following suggestions may help you stay limber and relatively pain-free.
Warm-up before stretching or an activity. Muscles that are warm through slow-paced pre-exercise such as jogging or walking, will be less likely to tear.
Stretching before and after exercise. Stay limber and flexible. Stretching is one of the best preventive measures against injury.
Get fitted with the proper shoe. This is a top priority especially for running, hiking, and cross training. Go to a running store with someone on staff who will analyze your walk, arch, and how your foot turns in or out during activity. They will then fit you with a shoe having the right amount of support or cushioning for your particular body type. This alone can substantially reduce the incidence of injury.
Start daily conditioning. Do some type of activity every day to help condition your body for more strenuous weekend exercise.
Try adding low-impact activities to the mix. Such as: Pilates, Yoga, Tai Chi, Elliptical Trainer, Recumbent Cycling, Spinning.
Add strength training to your weekly routine. Stronger muscles mean better joints and a more energized body.
Create a workout program with balance. Combine stretching, strength training and cardiovascular exercises to keep your body in balance.
Use R.I.C.E. If pain does creep into your body after an activity, use the technique of R.I.C.E. immediately to reduce inflammation. Never use heat in the first 48 to 72 hours after an injury occurs, as this will increase swelling and bruising. Rest-Ice-Compression-Elevation can make the difference in a fast, effective recovery from a sprain or strain.
Try massage. For tight, stressed muscles, massage therapy can be a relaxing and helpful treatment for minor pain. Self-message is easy to do on legs, ankles and feet.
Give cognitive behavior therapy a go. This therapy works on the concept that you can reprogram your mind to increase performance or decrease pain triggers, incorporating relaxation and other visualization techniques. Professional athletes have been using it for some time to rehearse a perfect performance in their mind before an event.
Physical activity may produce its own set of challenges for Baby Boomers. But inactivity itself is a threat to health. A sedentary lifestyle is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, stroke and some cancers. Regular physical exercise helps Boomers strengthen muscles, which in turn stabilizes joints, increases flexibility and keeps age-related diseases at bay. Better to be a buff Baby Boomer than a middle-age couch potato!
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical treatment or consultation. Always consult with your physician in the event of a serious injury.
Louise Roach is the editor of an on-line health and fitness newsletter. She has been instrumental in the research, testing and development of SnowPack, a patented cold therapy that exhibits the same qualities as ice. Her injury prevention and treatment articles have been published on running, walking and fitness websites. For more information visit: http://www.snowpackusa.com or NewsFlash*SnowPack at: http://home.netcom.com/~newsflash. Louise Roach can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org