Aging is a fact of life, even for athletes. No matter your skill level – amateur, pro, or anywhere in between – wear and tear on your joints will happen.
Increased use from playing sports may accelerate this process. Many athletes experience arthritis, rotator cuff tears, or other wear-and-tear conditions sooner than the general population.
As part of the aging process, musculoskeletal components including ligaments, tendons, muscles, and bones begin to deteriorate. Your shoulders are especially susceptible as you age, and about 70 percent of people will experience a shoulder injury at some point.
As the most flexible joints in your entire body, your shoulders provide you with an amazing range of motion. Yet that also makes these ball-and-socket joints less stable than other joints.
Simple everyday tasks you may take for granted that depend on your range of motion include driving, carrying your groceries, or picking up your children.
As an athlete, you understand how involved your shoulders are in your sport, whether you’re a pitcher throwing curve balls or a golfer teeing off. Any shoulder discomfort at all can make all of these tasks painful, limiting your mobility and keeping you from enjoying your sport.
Keep your shoulders (and the rest of your joints) in peak condition, and grow older gracefully with these simple tips:
- Keep exercise as a priority. It’s not just physical changes that occur. Changes in your schedule as you get older and take on more responsibilities (having kids, caring for older parents, etc.) make it difficult to find time to workout. Even if you don’t have time for muscle-building exercises, you can do maintenance workouts in as little as 20 minutes at a time, two or three days per week. Great shoulder exercises to incorporate include rear lateral raises, dumbbell push presses, and one-arm rows. These weight-bearing moves will help you work your deltoid muscles to keep your shoulders balanced.
- Consider physical therapy. Learning the best exercise methods for healthy joints will improve function and increase strength while preventing damage from improper technique. At Florida Sportsmedicine and Orthopaedics, we often recommend physical therapy for wear-and-tear conditions and to heal after labrum tears or other injuries.
- Stay hydrated. Your joints need synovial fluid to reduce friction. This fluid is composed of water among other nutrients for joint health, so hydration is important to maintain proper levels. Athletes lose fluids through sweat while stressing the joints, so drinking plenty of water is essential.
Getting older has many benefits – you’re wiser, have a better perspective, and your priorities become clearer. Embrace each stage of life with a healthy attitude to keep your body healthy as well.
Feel like your shoulders are keeping you sidelined as you get older? Request an appointment online or call our Panama City, Florida office at (850) 763-0346 today.
How have you improved your shoulder health as you age? How has aging as an athlete been beneficial? We’d love to know.