OLDER ATHLETES AND INJURIES

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Allatoona4It took two events to wake me up to people getting injured as they age and some ways to prevent injuries from happening, especially to athletes.

Time number one was my going to a chiropractor clinic that specializes in triathletes, runners, and sports enthusiasts when I had a illiotibial band problem. A couple guys worked on me, stretched some things, and lo! I was well. THEN, he said, “Stand on one foot with your eyes closed”. I was good for about four or five seconds on one foot and, maybe, eight seconds on the other before I started to lose balance. “Well, as you get older your overall balance, reflex speed, and coordination has to be trained. So do that exercise every day”. Aha, I thought (and duh), older people fall down because they don’t practice NOT falling down. Simple enough, yes?  Practice not falling down with balance exercises: Bosu Balls, yoga, and a variety of other tricks, including strengthening and energizing the “core” muscles (body trunk, mostly).

The second awakening, which really hurt a lot, was my taking a spill off my bike and breaking my femur (hip) completely freaking off. I laid there in significant pain; a few decades earlier than it should have happened, in my opinion, but due to the perfect storm of asphalt slope, complete stupidity, and not getting the .25 second unclick from my shoe clip in time I was like, “Help me, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” kind of thing. NOW I understand that ad for whatever-it-was about being completely helpless while lying on the ground.  How do a lot of older folks get hurt?  ….by FALLING, of course.

I was transported (read SCHOOLED!) to knowing how it must feel to lose the reflex speed, coordination, and balance with the painful result that happens in later decades. Not to oversimplify, because there are lots of reasons for losing mobility, energy, and general health with increasing age, but the body needs work to slow the aging process. I’m a triathlon age-grouper and doing really well until the hip replacement; we’ll see if my run split is as fast this season (check out my earlier “Inury, you can run around it”.  So over the last year or so I’ve developed an interest in helping older people who want to improve their lives, or run a 5k, or get stronger, as well as own a better sense of self.  I’m nearly finished with getting certified as a Personal Trainer and working on someone’s balance and “core”  is important, besides overall strength, cardio capacity and sometimes self-awareness.

I’ve always been fulfilled when teaching; whether acting classes or technology seminars. The “Two Lessons” I was taught for a Somewhat-Aging-Athlete (SAA, ha ha) gave me another interesting road to travel and to open roads for others, and thanks to my coach, Holly, and others in the medical field I’ve learned a lot about my own limitations and some  capabilities I didn’t know existed.

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