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Advice on Avoiding "Overuse" Injuries for a 50-year-old?

SallyCat

Moderator
Staff member
#1
Bless Me, Divas, for I have Sinned.

I have consistently failed to stretch, strengthen, or train prior to intense physical activity (especially mountain biking)
I do yoga once a year at most.
Gyms and fitness centers bore me to death. I want to be outside having fun.
I will do physical therapy after an injury and swear I'll stick with it and of course I don't. My future self knows not to cash any checks written by that deadbeat, Past Me.
A doctor once said of my abject failure to follow his simple routine for avoiding metatarsal pain: "Well, at least you're honest."


Deservedly, I have now been struck down with piriformis syndrome and quadriceps tendonitis/opathy. I watch sullenly from my porch as other people ride by on their bicycles and I am jealous of them which, because envy is a mortal sin, is not helping.

I accept the punishment for my iniquitous ways and I know that faith in my athleticism alone won't save me. I will turn fifty this year and I can no longer avoid the hard work necessary to do the activities I love without continually falling victim these "overuse" injuries.

Can anyone recommend a routine, a web site, a book, or a general strategy for preventative maintenance for people in their '50s? I want to enjoy biking, hiking, skiing, and running without being constantly waylaid by nagging pulls, tears, and inflammation.

What works for you? What keeps you active and avoiding injury?

I know that, as the Buddha said, there are many paths up the same mountain and we will all have different approaches to the problem of aging and human suffering. But I have been slow to reckon with my mortality and I would enjoy hearing about a broad swathe of approaches and resources so as to try to put together a set of good habits that will keep me on the strait and narrow.

Thank you for your help.
 

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
#2
Yes, my child, you have sinned. Verily, you are guilty of the sin of Ignoring the Inevitable, which is also a transgression against Use it or Lose it. And yes, it gets worse as you get older.

The fun stuff that you're describing already does a lot to keep you in shape. But strength training and yoga will allow you to do it more and better without getting injured.

I have no suggestions for books, routines, or web sites. Other than just make a plan and stick with it. Regularity is key. I'm older than you, and I fight the good fight each and every day with yoga and strength training, just so I can do the stuff I want without over stressing my body. Are there classes you could join? Sometimes doing things in a group makes it easier and a lot more fun.
 

SallyCat

Moderator
Staff member
#3
I'm very lucky to work at a fitness center, so as soon as the immediate pain subsides I will go see a personal trainer for her recommendations. You're right, I should go to classes, too; there is a nice selection of different yoga classes, for example, that I think I would enjoy.

You've rightly pinpointed my weakness in a childish refusal to commit to routines for the long-term (sloth) The one concession I've made in that regard is a regular visit to the hair stylist for "color-related services" (vanity). But it's time get serious about taking care of the rest of my mortal vessel.
 

Skier31

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#4
I think everyone has to find “the thing” that they will do. I have found that pilates (equipment pilates) incorporates strength training, stretching, core work for skiing and a bit of cardio if you do the jump board. I like a formal class because I have to do things I do not like but that are good for me. The great thing about pilates is that it moves quick -10 or so reps of each and you get a whole body workout in a hour. Also, 12 hour cancellation policy makes me go even if I dont really feel like going early in the morning.

I have been doing pilates since 2003. My posture and overall conditioning is much better than before I started and I am a couple of years older than you.

I try to go 2-4 times a week in summer and once a week in winter.

Your uphill program in winter should be plenty of cardio.
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
#6
As I'm over 60, I understand your issues. I can be lazy too, but eventually I drive myself to do something. Usually in the winter I go to 2 classes at one on the local gyms. It's called all bad no bounce. So good for my arthritic knees. Plus I had a Plant Fitness membership. There I get on the bikes and watch TV. Nothing like watching "Say yes to the Dress". Add in the weekend skiing to that.

Summer is all about the water. Last week, Thursday, we had a guest coach for dragon boat practice. He worked on technique. Was I sore on Friday morning! Not enough core work somewhere. Even still sore on Saturday morning. But gone now, and even after last night's practice with him again, no soreness today.

I would love Pilates, but no one seems to have classes here.
 

Skier31

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#7
Thanks, @Skier31, that schedule actually sounds perfectly manageable. I'm a dolt for building "The Gym" into a bigger, more burdensome commitment than it has to be.
Sallycat, no berating yourself. I think most of us struggle to do incorporate work, exercise and relaxation time. You have moved into a fabulous new place and now is the time to start your new routine. You can do this!
 

Abbi

Angel Diva
#8
Bless Me, Divas, for I have Sinned.

I have consistently failed to stretch, strengthen, or train prior to intense physical activity (especially mountain biking)
I do yoga once a year at most.
Gyms and fitness centers bore me to death. I want to be outside having fun.
I will do physical therapy after an injury and swear I'll stick with it and of course I don't. My future self knows not to cash any checks written by that deadbeat, Past Me.
A doctor once said of my abject failure to follow his simple routine for avoiding metatarsal pain: "Well, at least you're honest."


Deservedly, I have now been struck down with piriformis syndrome and quadriceps tendonitis/opathy. I watch sullenly from my porch as other people ride by on their bicycles and I am jealous of them which, because envy is a mortal sin, is not helping.

I accept the punishment for my iniquitous ways and I know that faith in my athleticism alone won't save me. I will turn fifty this year and I can no longer avoid the hard work necessary to do the activities I love without continually falling victim these "overuse" injuries.

Can anyone recommend a routine, a web site, a book, or a general strategy for preventative maintenance for people in their '50s? I want to enjoy biking, hiking, skiing, and running without being constantly waylaid by nagging pulls, tears, and inflammation.

What works for you? What keeps you active and avoiding injury?

I know that, as the Buddha said, there are many paths up the same mountain and we will all have different approaches to the problem of aging and human suffering. But I have been slow to reckon with my mortality and I would enjoy hearing about a broad swathe of approaches and resources so as to try to put together a set of good habits that will keep me on the strait and narrow.

Thank you for your help.
Welcome to being human. And stop beating yourself up it makes it worse!

I found in years of teaching fitness in various forms that the best exercise is the one you will do! I have decades of weightlifting which I have backed off from due to heart issues. I have been teaching Pilates for more than 15 years and when I do it, it works really well for overall strength and conditioning for me. The human part is me in the winter not really keeping my Pilates work up! I don’t have enough space in my apartment to bring my equipment. And there is no one in town who has what I would like. That said I could keep up better if I would consistently do the mat work which I can do in my apartment. Feels cramped and weird on the bedroom floor but still possible! And I probably skied for a bunch of hours that day too!

I walk and jog because I like being outside to exercise. If I have to go inside I get on the bike or the rower at planet fitness. The bike is more gratifying because I can sit there and read and ignore the fact that I’m stuck indoors!

And it is finally sailing season for me! My boat went in the water last Friday, a month later than hoped for due to a zillion snafus. So I get lots of bruises and a certain amount of exercise and a lot of being cramped up in funny postures!

Stretching is useful but there are places we should not be stretching the way we learn to stretch them 20 or 30 years ago. It’s easier to overstretch than one might think. There is a seminar I need take on that exact subject. But I haven’t yet! Because it’s in Boston during the summer and why would I want to give up a sailing day!

I know many people swear by yoga and based on that I’m willing to include that as a suggestion. Otherwise just keep moving! But not to the point of breaking yourself! Sadly we do change physiologically as we age. So the brain thinks we are still 20 when chronology says otherwise! Hang in there and be good to yourself!
 
#9
Lots of good advice here. And yep, what everyone else says, find *something* and do it. I am 57, and extremely active. Periformis syndrome is but one of my issues. I have to do something every day to feel good and strong, and prevent injury. My routine is an intense multi discipline fitness class twice a week, regular flexibility work, and whatever PT exercises the current issue dictates. It comes down to this... is it more painful to sit and watch everyone else go out , or to force yourself into new routines? It is never too late.
 

Gloria

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#10
Recovery is THE most important element in both avoiding injury and getting stronger at any age. More is not always better and especially when you get older. I agree the best exercise is the one that you enjoy. I don’t necessarily see a need for you to take up something that you don’t enjoy to prevent injury but you can restructure the ways you are doing what you like. For instance the 5 days on 2 days off regime is neither the best for women nor masters athletes. Instead try 3 days on 1 off then 2 on 1 off or 2 on 1 off 2 on in that order. 3 days on under normal circumstances is the most you want to engage as a master. Normal circumstances means just regular training or recreating not ski trips, extended day pack trips etc. You can and should taper ahead of times for these though. In sports like biking and running you can also alter the intensity to avoid overuse injuries. For instance mix up long sustained rides with shorter faster rides and days where you only climbing hills don’t set a time or distance met for every day as a goal or plan. And warm up, you can incorporate most PT exercises into a warm up as well but you should warm up for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Save the foam rolling for recovery days or afterwards as it takes 20 minutes for the water pushed out of the muscle to re-enter and rehydrate the muscle. Recovery means recovery too, if you know you are going to be working hard in the yard or skiing over the weekend, this should not be counted as a recovery day plan your workouts so you are resting fully no less than 2 days a week.
 

SallyCat

Moderator
Staff member
#11
Thank you all for the wonderful advice and encouragement.

I went for a very gentle bike ride today and it felt good to be outside and at least a little bit active, but I'm proud of my restraint as well. I did not pedal hills, and just stayed in a very low gear, going sloooooow and easy, barely pushing with my injured side. Last night I did a little trigger-point massage (with a tennis ball) and holy cow, my piriformis pain has somehow disappeared. Now to do the hard work of continuing to rest and do PT and sticking to very gentle walks and bike rides so that it stays gone.

I have seen the light and changed my wicked ways!
 

mustski

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#12
I too struggle with piriformus pain and, like you, have metatarsal issues. I have also had one bad episode of plantar fasciitis. Interestingly, when I stretch my calf, ankles, and foot it helps with all three types of pain. I actually believe that the tightness in my ankles is causing misalignment in my knee and hip when walking and is causing my piriformus pain. This is something that I discovered on my own when regular PT was not improving the piriformus pain. I noticed that my flexibility in that hip and leg is terrible when compared to my other leg. Anyhow, not a medical diagnosis so take it for what it's worth.
 

nopoleskier

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#14
I have an inversion table for my sciatica. (piriformus) It does hurt to do it but it makes it go away the fastest. I have a bunch of exercises I do to try and keep it at bay.The pain is the worst pain ever.

I try to never cross my legs when sitting and can not sit crooked or I will be crippled. I think I have figured out my causes and we did get a new bed- that was the final fix (so far) Interestingly when I ski the pain would be gone- until I got in the car to drive home- one more reason to love skiing.. mind over pain

Exercise, sadly I'll confess, I'm lazier than I used to be although I walk every day at least 40+min at a fast pace and I try to go 2x a day to get 1.5hr or more in. I stretch when making dinner, (use the counter) Do leg lifts toe touch, side bends, twists, I do need to get back into my "wi" and the yoga- that does seem to be the easiest way to get flexible (again). It sucks to get old.. move it or loose it is true.
 

pinto

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#15
I too hate gyms and classes. I really hate classes. A personal trainer was good for me for a while, but then she moved. It was good education, though, for my own workouts.

What works best for me is variety. I can't slog through a couple hours of the same thing because it just wears down further the already-worn-down parts. I also like balls, and while I'd rather throw them, for some reason a medicine ball workout never gets old.

I have piriformis syndrome, as well. It flares up after going uphill (hiking or skinning) and sitting in the car. Which, well, yeah. Drive to hike (or ski), drive back... Perfect recipe. I have a few stretches that work great, though. Problem is, it only ever hurts in the middle of the night, so sometimes I forget to stretch.

One thing I don't think was mentioned, except in the sense of recovery, is massage. I really need to do it more, but I still have that "oh it's a luxury I don't need" thing going on in my head. But it's really important for us aging athletes....
 

SallyCat

Moderator
Staff member
#16
Good point about massage, @pinto . I used to get tension headaches and would only ever go for a neck-shoulder massage when a multi-day headache set in. I need to make it more of a habit and more targeted to problem areas.

I suspect a chiropractic visit may be in order just because all of my problems are on the same side. Childhood scoliosis plus bad habits probably points to the need for some attention to balance of strength and stretching.
 

pinto

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#17
Good point about massage, @pinto . I used to get tension headaches and would only ever go for a neck-shoulder massage when a multi-day headache set in. I need to make it more of a habit and more targeted to problem areas.

I suspect a chiropractic visit may be in order just because all of my problems are on the same side. Childhood scoliosis plus bad habits probably points to the need for some attention to balance of strength and stretching.
Yes, I have some crappy alignment in my SI joint, plus a short leg, and this is really the base. You can lift weights or whatever all you want, but if you are starting out all janky, it's just a never-ending circle of injury.
 
#19
For me it was important to find a schedule that fit easily into my day--30 min/day. I work out at home, which is convenient. I found a fitness professional who was truly nice and watchable, and I do her mix of cardio, strength, and flexibility/balance video workouts. She provides calendars or playlists that add structure to the process. My advice is to be patient, try to make it a habit, don't kill yourself, and take advantage of the gym and personal trainer perks at work.

For all that, it's still good to mix things up sometimes. Recently I tried an app called Aaptiv. There's a 30 day free trial period. I'm not going to renew, because it doesn't fit into my home routine. You might want to check it out if you have access to the gym.
 

Powgirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#20
@SallyCat ...I don't have many suggestions...I own a gardening business, working 6-7 hours a day...I wake up pretty sore and stiff...I do 15 minutes of yoga and about a 10 minute routine my PT gave me, every morning...it really helps prepare me for my day of physical activity at work.

There are times I have skipped it, and I pay the price...
 

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