20 Oct 6 Tips for Aging Athletes
From sport to sport, the age of “peak performance” varies, but for most of us, the effects of aging really sink in the early to mid-30s. You start waking up with new aches and that morning run gets a little shorter and little slower each time. While Astym therapy can help keep your body feeling young longer, you can’t outrun time and you shouldn’t try. So here are some tips on how to age well as an athlete.
- Accept your age, your body, and your limitations.
You’re getting older, so don’t hold yourself to the standards of your younger self. You are never too old to exercise (as proven by now 91-year-old gymnast Johanna Quaas) but you should adjust your activities and goals to something reasonable for you, and only you can determine what that means.
- Look into low impact alternatives
Consider modifying exercises that are damaging your body. If running becomes too painful or you experience an impact injury, try cycling or swimming for a while to reduce the impact on your body. If you find certain exercises are causing you more pain than they used to, adjust the exercises to reduce soft tissue damage so you can keep active without injury. There are a number of low impact alternatives out there.
- Sleep More, Eat Better, Drink Water.
While these actions are important for athletes of any age, they are especially important as you age. Most healing occurs during the REM sleep cycle, so it is especially important to get that rest to allow your body to recover. Consuming water, electrolytes, carbohydrates, and protein after exercise is conducive to body hydration, restoring muscle glycogen levels, and repairing soft tissue damage.
- Don’t skip out on strength training.
One of the most crippling aspects of aging for athletes is the loss of muscle mass and strength with age. Resistance training and bodyweight exercises like pushups and squats can help to maintain and build muscle mass and prevent loss of strength.
- Give yourself more time between workouts,
Especially if you push yourself to do the high-intensity training of your younger years, you need to take longer rest periods in between. Even though you may be able to accomplish those workouts, it’s better to give yourself a little extra time between them for your body to recover. Rest or active recovery are both options in between high-intensity training.
- Listen to your body when it hurts.
Reduce workout intensity, take additional time to rest, or seek out medical care when necessary. Physical therapy and especially Astym Therapy can help keep you healthy and help you exercise better, longer.
Age does provide you with some advantages. In your years, you’ve gained knowledge and experience. Over time, you’ve come to know your body better than anyone else and what works best for you. You can feel when you’ve accomplished a good workout, even if that workout didn’t beat your personal records. And as long as you feel like you’ve accomplished something in your body, you’re moving toward your goals.