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Tips for Staying in the Gym and Avoiding Injury

Tips for Staying in the Gym and Avoiding Injury

Fitness knows no age limits. In fact, the older you are, the more important fitness is, and the more important it is to be showing up at the gym, being faithful, being consistent, not taking weeks and months off, getting those workouts in, even when you're on vacation.

Atrophy sets in so much faster as you get older and so does the propensity for injury and the ability to recover from those injuries.

And if muscle atrophies, we lose mobility.

Recently, I was talking to a 79 year old female patient who I had convinced over the last year to get back into the gym to join the Silver Sneakers class. 

She shared how last year during the fall and winter, she just stayed at home and felt like she aged a decade. She was looking forward to getting back to her group classes, not only to build up her strength, but the overall wellbeing she experienced by being at the gym.

Normally, she has seasonal affective disorder pretty bad, but when she's active and in the gym with other people, she stays motivated and doesn't experience the seasonal blues.

It's interesting to note that she said it took her almost three months to build up the courage and the motivation to get to class.

When you get out of a workout routine or maybe never had a workout routine before it can be hard to find the courage to get back into the gym.

No matter what your age or fitness level, you want to take on the mindset of "I'm going to get better", "I'm going to improve".

You can gain a new skill, you can become more proficient, you can get a little stronger.

All those things can happen whether you're 79 years old or you're 29 years old or 47 and a half. It's totally possible.

I would mention for this 79 year old woman, I didn't start her out with a bunch of different exercises. My initial encouragement was to get her to join that Silver Sneakers walking group once she was doing that twice a week, then the next step was getting her into a pseudo stretching and weight training class.

Now I've convinced her to start strength training on her own.

She's going into the gym twice a week, doing strength training, doing resistance training and using the machines.

So many times when I go to the gym, I see older people they're just like cycling on the bike, sitting on that recumbent bike spinning away. And you know what? It's better than doing nothing for sure, but I would love to convince them to start on the stair mill for 30 seconds each time they come in.

The step mill is this rotating staircase and is a great machine for increasing fitness capacity. I convinced my patient to do the stair mill for two minutes, twice a week before her strength training sessions.

Now she's in the gym five days a week, and she's super pumped about the winter, and she has new relationships she's building.

I've been injured myself doing a multitude of different fitness activities over the years. However, the difference is that when you apply resistance-based training, like say, Crossfit, where there's all this scaling involved, the opportunity for benefit far outweighs the risk of injury.

In most group fitness classes I don't see people getting stronger.

In a strength training class, you can scale what you're doing, you know, as needed, based on your skill level, and you can continue working out even amongst injuries, because injuries are gonna happen if you are using your body. 

In your standard group class, most people aren't building muscle outside of the first 30 days because it's the same stuff over and over and over again. These group classes are mostly cardio-based.

Building muscle is what's going to support their joints. It's going to hold things together. It's going to take some stress off of ligaments because a lot of people with age, lose so much muscle tissue, and now you just got ligaments and tendons holding joints together.

Tips for coaches or trainers of 40+ athletes:

1. Set goals. 

Make sure the athletes can see where they're at, where they want to go, and how they're going to get there, and make sure to recognize when they hit the goal and show them how far they've come. Helping them compete with themselves is going to be far more empowering than competing with someone 20 or 30 years younger than them.

2. Keep the movements simple.

Keep them in the midline and keep the weight below their waist when starting out, because once you start putting weight overhead, you're putting a lot of pressure on the spine.

Likely the discs in their spine are not super lubricated so the potential for irritation from their neck all the way down to their lower back is super high when lifting weights overhead.

Of course if they have been learning how to lift properly, then I think movements such as the waiter carry and farmer carry are just amazing for the older population because they're so functional and there is minimal risk of injury.

Instead of starting out with deadlifts with a bar or dumbbells which come with a high risk of injury, I recommend starting out with a kettlebell deadlift.

Start with a light kettlebell and gradually work up to a heavier kettlebell.

It can help them recognize how to keep their core engaged, how to feel when their hamstrings and glutes are firing. It helps them feel that without a deadlift bar, a barbell hanging out in front of them or even dumbbells on the side, where it's really challenging especially as we age, to maintain proper form and to keep our spine erect and not rounding it, even if the rounding's in the thoracic spine.

Some people can do a lot of these movements like deadlifts and such with a lumbar spine that's locked in, but you see their upper back is rounded.

This leads me to my next tip...

3. Maintain good form

Maintaining awesome form through the whole movement, through all the repetitions is far more valuable than picking up an extra 40 pounds.

Most people in the 40 plus category, unless they've specifically learned how to use and engage their legs to move weight, will end up using their lower back.  

To ensure proper form, you can start an athlete out with banded exercises and increasing tension as they get to their max ranges in motion. Then once their form is down, they can pick up the weights.

The bands are a great way to support tendon and ligament strengthening without increasing the risk for injury and they support proper form. 

4. Support proper recovery

I think the active 40 plus athlete would do well to be asked about painkillers. Are they using ibuprofen? If they are, their recovery is being blunted.

Their ability to build muscle tissue to regenerate ligaments, tendons, and tissue is blunted. 

Collagen production, collagenase activity, that enzyme that causes us to turn over collagen, make it stronger, is blunted and puts us in a compromised position.

To support collagen production, I recommend eggshell membrane.

It's basically a collagen peptide matrix and is high in hyaluronic acid and essentially everything you need to build, develop and fortify connective tissue, which is your ligaments, tendons, joints, cartilage, even your skin.

The formula I use is called Joint Revive Pro. It has a really high bioavailable form of eggshell membrane that doesn't require you to take ten plus gram doses like standard collagen.

And since collagen synthesis increases with workouts, taking eggshell membrane or like in Joint Revive Pro, a fermented, eggshell membrane, greatly increases its bioavailability.

Take Joint Revive Pro before a workout can actually promote cell collagenous activity. There's actually studies on jumping rope and showing that if you took collagen peptides within 60 minutes of a workout, you greatly increase from like seven to 16 times the amount of collagen activity. This means you are causing those ligaments and tendons to form and repair more quickly during and post workout, which is huge.

With Join Revive Pro, you can take one capsule or two capsules, depending on if you're struggling with arthritis, ligament, ligamentitis, tendinitis, that kind of thing. 

You could literally take one capsule and that could go a long ways in extending the pliability and the resilience, especially of the 40 plus athlete who's already going to be a little behind when it comes to collagen turnover.

The last thing I want is to be injured. That's why we compete with ourselves and not each other so that we can show up to the gym the next day.

For many older athletes, the reason they can't get to the gym is due to pain and discomfort. While eggshell membrane isn't a miracle cure, it can certainly support ligaments, tendons, and joints and some people have seen results in as little as seven days in clinical trials.

Let's support our 40+ athletes and keep them active for years to come.

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