The world cup. The biggest event of the world. And if you are like me the excitement of watching game after game gives way to recapturing my youth and scrimmaging with the boys on a weekend afternoon. However seemingly playing like I did when I was 18, running hard for the ball, deeking in and out, I pull a hamstring. Yep, all in ten minutes. The rest of the game I limp around until I make it worse and eventual retire to the sideline. I don’t remember THAT happening way back when!
So what do I take away from my shortened resurrected career? In all the excitement of going out and playing like world cup athletes who are 30 years my junior, we must remember two things; 1) that most of us don’t exercise and play like we use to and 2) our tissue has changed.
As we age our tissue changes. This is evident by looking at a child’s skin as opposed to the 50 year old. Tissue changes, for some faster than others but it changes none the less. Muscles begin to shrink and lose mass. This is a natural process. The number and size of muscle fibers also decreases. Thus, it takes muscles longer to respond in our 50s than they did in our 20s. The water content of tendons also decreases as we age. This makes the tissues stiffer and less able to tolerate stress. Tissue becomes less elastic, meaning that it’s stretch is less resilient to forces pulling it apart. Regular massage and Neuromuscular Therapy helps slow down the process as well as other exercises such as stretching and yoga.
Studies have shown that as we age functional loss includes a deterioration of end-plate structures and a decreased fiber recruitment. Contraction time and half-relaxation time are prolonged, and maximal contraction velocity is decreased. This means it’s easier to get injured.
I work out regularly in my garage gym 4 days a week. Cardio and weights is my weekly program. But running and twisting in a game is much different. We must remember to slowly build into the sport we are playing. Exercising that recreates the movements of the sport helps condition your muscles and tissue. Also making sure before you go running to chase a ball that you’ve warmed up sufficiently and stretched well. Stretching is an excellent way to help maintain joint flexibility. Then, there is the cool down following. Stretching, icing and drinking water to rehydrate is a must in the cool down stage.
Studies have also shown weight training can increase muscle mass and strength, enabling people to continue their daily routine activities without maximal exertion. Even moderate amounts of physical activity can reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease.
Long-term regular exercises may slow the loss of muscle mass and prevent age-associated increases in body fat. Exercise also helps maintain the body’s response time, as well as its ability to deliver and use oxygen efficiently. Just 30 minutes of moderate activity, incorporated into your daily routine, can provide health benefits.
If you have never attempted an exercise program before, be sure to see your doctor before starting one now. As always, if you have any comments or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Peter Roach, RMT, CNMT, Laser Therapist