My shoulder injury has really been a blessing in disguise. Through my interaction with physical therapists and explanation of the process that my body is going through, I am starting to understand the mechanical and neurological changes that our body goes through as it ages hands on. I have always felt that hands on (or on the job) learning is the best way to get acquainted with a skill.
Don’t let me scare you, but as we age, nerve cells may begin passing messages more slowly than they had in the past. This slower pace can cause problems with movement and essentially safety. The way that we do things might get more difficult, creating the urge for our body to “compensate”. Anytime that we are compensating, we are possibly setting ourselves up for injury. Now, here is my example. When I dislocated my shoulder, my mind starting telling my shoulder to lift overhead by engaging my traps and my chest (rather than setting my shoulders and using muscles in my posterior). This caused an anterior tilt in my collar bone. I have literally had to relearn how to reach overhead.
Until you have experienced what I am talking about, you may be athletic enough to work through some of these issues. However, the older you get, the more likely you will need to practice prevention. The easiest thing to do? Mental stimulation. Crossword puzzles. Sudoku. Want to cross that over to an athletic scenario? Come to SmartCore. When we ask you to change something with your legs while you are already doing something with your arms (or vice versa), we are challenging that little piece of your brain that just doesn’t get worked in many other areas of life.
In talking to my physical therapists, I am (and they are) noticing a scary trend in fitness. It seems like nowadays, everyone is trying to do as much as possible in the shortest amount of time. The same goes for fitness. Individuals are looking for a workout that will burn the most calories or get them sweating the quickest without spending an allocated amount of time making sure they are doing the exercises correctly. This is resulting in ALOT of injuries. A person in their 20s (maybe 30s) is likely to be able to work through incorrect form to a certain extent. However, as we get older, cell and tissue changes can make it more difficult for many people to recover and perform at the same level that they may have at a younger age.
This is not to say that I can not compete in my beloved Spartan Race, but I do need to be more careful in my movements and in my training. I need to adjust my training. I need to make my training more functional – or as I would like to describe more athletic. For those of you that do the same workout every day – you need some variety. I know there are so many reasons why we feel we have to do the same thing, but a change is sometimes the best way to find imbalances. Cardio does not need to be done every day. Strength training is imperative. Finding a plan that will help you be the best functioning human as you age is the most important.
- Mental stimulation is just as important as physical stimulation as it relates to our ability to get around as we age.
- When attending a workout where someone is shouting exercises at you as your perform them in a group format, consciously think about how you are doing the exercise (instead of doing it as fast as possible). Seriously, right now physical therapists, chiropractors, etc. are making so much money off of our need for efficiency in exercise.
- Variety is good – make exercise more and more about being functional. I mean, how many of us are really going to be professional athletes? Leave that to the professional athletes. Being able to carry around your child, do yard work and walk around are just as important as making sure you get a morning run in.