I have a mate (let’s call him Dave), at 30 Dave was an amazing athlete, highly resistant to injury and the fittest person I knew.
Now 45, he’s given up pretty much every sport he used to do, rarely leaves the sofa and has pretty much stopped. And it could have all have been easily avoided.
At about 35 Dave tripped over a paving flag in the street and damaged his knee. Nothing major, certainly nothing worth getting looked at (or so he thought at the time). But it meant that every time he did any sport his knee caused him pain.
As a result he didn’t push himself as hard, didn’t improve as much, didn’t enjoy what he was doing as much and inevitably did less and less.
As he did less his fitness declined, to the point where he struggled when he did get out. He started putting on weight which made the whole process just that little bit harder…
Until eventually he gave up all together and rather than doing the sports he loved, contented himself watching others do them on YouTube.
All Because Of A Stupid Knee Injury
Which could have been easily dealt with.
However injuries like this are the main reason I see people after 40 giving up. I’m not just talking about sports, but many of the things they love.
So for me the most important thing we can do to keep on enjoying our sports as we pass 40, 50, 60 and beyond. Is to become more resistant to injury and heal faster when we are injured.
Well the problem is as we age our muscles get old with us. BUT when I say old what I really mean is damaged.
Muscle fibres are supposed to run straight through the muscle.
All that sitting around we’ve been doing at work, those niggling injuries we picked up in our teens, the fact the we’ve been exercising in a way not designed for longevity of performance…
Leads to those fibres becoming entangled into knots like spaghetti junction.
These knots, pull the muscle tighter, making it denser, whilst at the same time forming a weak point. So when we twist in a weird way or receive an impact they break rather than absorb the impact.
This is the main reason why a child of 5 can go from sitting around playing computer games all day to a full on sprint at the drop of the hat. Whereas most 40 + year olds doing the same would pull up in agony after 10 meters.
The Great News?
We can get rid of these knots and so youth our muscles fairly easily.
Before I go into that however, how have we got to a point where the very exercise we are doing is causing such damage to our muscles?
The main problem is that there is a contradiction right at the heart of the hearth and fitness industry. One which really costs us once we pass 40 unless we do something about it.
You see most exercise science is based on the study of elite athletes. Following the ethos “if it works for Usain Bolt, it’ll work for me.”
But what isn’t taken into account is that most of these athletes are looking to be the absolute best they can be right now. They want to win the gold medal this year, they want to make the team this week.
No one’s really looking at how to ensure they still make the team in 10 – 20 years time.
At the heart of this problem is …
The LONGER, MORE MODEL
This is the idea that the only way to get fit is to do more exercise at a higher intensity, for longer.
AND IT WORKS!
Of course it does, otherwise it wouldn’t be what every single personal Trainer out there is teaching…
So what’s the problem?
It causes a huge amount of strain on the body, strain which comes back to haunt as as we pass 30/35.
We need to change the way we work out to focus less on immediate gains and more on long term fitness.
I’ve written an entire book about how to do this, complete with workouts which you can download and it’s all FREE!
YOGA & INJURIES
The other issue I see cropping up time and time again is our obsession with stretching.
Now before all you yoga people get upset and stop reading let me explain.
Imagine you have a piece of string and you stretch it…all good, the line stretches as it’s designed to. Now put a knot in it and stretch it again. Now you’ve made the line shorter by putting the knot in it and as you stretched it you’ve pulled the knot tighter.
This is similar to what happens in your muscles if you do yoga with knotted muscles (which practically all of us over 15 do!).
So yoga is great (as long as you don’t take it to far and become over flexible which causes its own problems) but needs to be done after we’ve removed all the knots from our muscles.
How Do We Do This?
Well the gold standard in this is something called Pliability…championed by Tom Brady. It’s a deep tissue, targeted massage where the person being massaged plays an active part in the massage by tensing and relaxing the muscles as they are being manipulated.
For those of us who can’t afford a personal masseuse, vibrating rollers and vibrating spikes balls do a similar if not quite so effective job. Especially if we expedite the process by tensing and relaxing our muscles while performing the massage.
Do this before and after exercise and you’ll soon see your knots unravelling, your muscles youthing and your resistance to injury flying through the roof.