|The Aging Athlete||Training||Recovery||Injury Care|
The oldest of the baby boomers, the generation born between 1946 and 1964, are currently (as of 2006) 60 years old and comprise almost 30% of the U.S. population. The U.S. Census Bureau states that there are 330 people turning 60 every day! Over 50% of them are women.
Science Daily states:
While many baby boomers-people between the ages of 37 and 55-are exercising more, many end up in hospital emergency rooms suffering from sports related injuries, according to Yale orthopaedic surgeon, Robert A. Stanton, M.D., who wants to raise awareness about this growing problem and offer preventative strategies.
Statistics show that most sports-related injuries affecting this age group come from bicycling, running, skiing and in-line skating. Although the injuries were relatively minor, Stanton said the bruises and sprains added up to nearly 90,000 injuries in one year-a 42 percent increase in the past decade.
"The majority of these injuries are preventable," said Stanton, clinical instructor of orthopaedics at Yale School of Medicine." Read Baby Boomer Sports Injuries for more information.
This last point is the purpose of this page. The distinction of geezer jock as been given to baby boomer athletes and the term boomeritis has been coined to describe these types of injuries. As a baby boomer myself, I have put the following page together for baby boomer athletes. It is a work in progress....
In 1900 people were considered old in their 40s; in 1960 people seemed old in their 60s; but today many do not feel old even in their 80s! The oldest Olympic medallist (a rifleman) was 72. There are many professional athletes playing into their 40s.
The bad news is that there are the key physiological changes with age that have an impact on our sports performance. The good news is that with proper training these changes can be mitigated to a large degree. For those of you who have never done a proper strength and conditioning program and diet and nutrition program there is even better news; your performance can be better than it has been in decades!
Here are some of the physiological changes that occur with age:
30% - 50% or more of this physiological deterioration is the result of detraining (decreased or no exercise) and poor diet and nutritional habits. To stay fit, healthy and even improve our athletic performance, we must train our bodies safely and proper by combining a strength and conditioning program with a healthy diet and some important supplements.
Did you know that the world record holder in the men's 100m (11.70) would BEAT the winner of the 100m in the 1896 Olympic Games (12.00)? Geezer Jock? I don't think so! See Master's Track and Field Records and Database Olympics for proof!
Strength training is crucial to combat the increase in body fat and loss of muscle mass, power and strength. Strength training should be performed at least 2 times per week leaving at least 48-72 hours between workouts. (Note: More advanced weight training may be performed more frequently and with less time between workouts). You must pick exercises for each of the body parts: legs (calves, front thigh, rear thigh), abdomen, back, chest, shoulders, arms (biceps, triceps). Don't neglect any body parts - this will lead to imbalances in your body. Proper technique is very important - I have had too many patients come to me due to injuries caused by poor technique. Buy an anatomy book and learn the names of the muscles and what they do. This will be extremely helpful in learning how to do your exercise properly.
A quick note on machines vs. free weights. Machines can be beneficial for rehabilitation purposes when the stability of an area is in question and the stress on the area needs to be controlled. The down side of machines is that they allow movement in only one plane of motion and do not require your body to stabilize during the movement. For example, performing a machine chest press does not engage the muscles required to stabilize the entire body as with free weights. If performed with dumbbells on a stability ball, a chest press becomes a full body workout requiring the contraction of the feet, leg, thigh, abdominal, lower back, gluteal, upper back, and neck muscles as well as the chest and triceps muscles. Some machines can actually cause injury like the lower back machine in which you sit and push backwards against a pad. Research has shown this movement to be damaging to the spinal discs. This machine, often recommended as part of rehabilitation for the lower back, may eventually cause a disc herniation!
Aerobic conditioning is the next part of the puzzle. Getting your heart rate into your target zone for at least 20-30 minutes at least five days per week is a must. This will enhance your overall cardiovascular conditioning. The target zone is most easily determined by taking 220 - age= maximum heart rate. Multiply this number by 60% and 80% and this will give you your target range. Check online for target heart rate calculators that use more accurate equations. Learn to take your pulse or just buy a heart rate monitor. These monitors come with a watch and a strap that goes around your chest and sends a signal to the watch. Many of you may jog, walk on a treadmill, use an elliptical machine or ride a bike to build your conditioning. However, softball requires sprinting. This must be trained and practiced as well and is a totally different type of fitness. Believe it or not, speed can be taught! Come on over to Velocity Sports Performance and we can improve your sprinting technique.
Flexibility is the next component and for many of you may be the most important one. As we age, our tissues lose elasticity and we lose flexibility. However, if we practice different stretching techniques we can not only regain flexibility, but also become more flexible than ever. I will simply the discussion by suggesting two books, Stretching, by Bob Anderson and The Whartons' Stretch Book, by Jim and Phil Wharton. Stretching is a great review for the beginner and reviews static stretching. Static stretching is very effective at lengthening the muscles. Static stretching should be done A FTER playing sports. The key to effective static stretching is to breathe slowly and not force the stretch. Stretching is not a time to practice NO PAIN, NO GAIN. The Whartons' book reviews Active Isolated Stretching, which is the type of stretching that should be done BEFORE playing sports and can be used as part of your warm-up. Active stretching not only prepares the muscles for athletic activity, but prepares the nervous system as well. Try it and you will see great results!
Balance is the last component I will discuss. Some of the most devastating injuries to the older adult are caused slips and falls. Good balance can not only help prevent this from occurring, but when combined with good strength and flexibility, enhance your agility for playing sports as well. Try standing on one leg (in a corner so you have two walls to catch yourself if needed). Is your balance better on one side than another? Work up to one minute on each leg. Once you master that, stand on one leg and play catch (catch the ball with two hands). Don't neglect this important part of fitness!
A review of diet and nutrition is a topic for another article but suffice to say, GET OFF THE SEE FOOD DIET! Fruits, vegetables, whole grains (NOT processed carbohydrates), and lean meat are the foundation of a good diet. Beneficial supplements are: a good multi-vitamin/mineral, glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis, MSM (also for the joints), extra vitamin C, and omega-3 (fish) oils. ALWAYS check with your pharmacist to be sure there are no dangerous drug/supplement interactions!
So, how old would you think you were if you didn't know how old you are?
"The goal is certainly not to avoid stress - stress is a part of life. It is a natural by-product of all our activities...But in order to express yourself fully, you must first find your optimum stress level and then use your adaptation energy at a rate and in a direction adjusted to the innate structure of your mind and body. It is not easy...It takes much practice and almost constant self-analysis." (Selye, 1956)
"...you must train very hard to make progress: however, you must be able to recover from your workouts." Jim Schmitz U.S. Olympic Weightlifting Coach 1980, 1988, 1992
Overreaching is a term used to describe temporary overtraining, which can require 2 days to 2 weeks of recovery time and true overtraining, which can require weeks to months of recovery time. "Overreaching occurs when full recovery is not achieved for an extended time period and fatigue builds up. This usually occurs slowly over the course of a month or two, but it can happen much quicker in the face of a dramatic increase in training volume and/ or intensity. Symptoms associated with overreaching are similar to fatigue, only more severe. Those of you who have overreached may also notice an increased resting heart rate, premature fatigue during training, decrease in work capacity, increased heart rate during submax loads and an increased thirst, especially at night."
"If you do overreach and do not allow for a period or two of lower intensity levels the fatigue will continue to accumulate and your body will force you to take a rest by becoming injured or overtrained. True overtraining takes several months to set in but once it does you will have to dramatically decrease your workload anywhere from several weeks to several months in order to fully restore all bodily systems. During this period it is very difficult to even maintain current fitness levels, much less improve them, and a decrease is usually expected. This is why true overtraining is to be avoided at all costs."
Mechanical damage: Years ago it was thought that muscle soreness was caused by lactic acid. We now know that this is not the case. Lactic acid is removed from the muscle in a matter of minutes. Although were not 100% sure, most experts now agree that muscle soreness is caused by damage (microtrauma) to the muscle fibers themselves.
"When you strain your muscles, you produce localized damage such as microscopic tears to muscle fiber membranes and protein filaments. Over the twenty-four hours following strenuous exercise, the damaged muscles become swollen and sore. In addition, there is increased blood flow to the muscles, which causes the muscle tissued to swell. Muscle nerves perceive this abnormal state and send pain messages to your brain as soon as you try to move the morning after overexertion." "As we grow older, our muscles and their surrounding tissued lose elasticity, so we feel soreness and tightness more quickly than we did in high school."
Specifically, it thought that the portion of the muscle cell called the sarcoplasmic reticulum (which stores calcium until it is needed for muscular contraction) tears and leaks calcium into the surrounding area of the muscle. This leads to a degree of inflammation within the muscle causing swelling and tenderness.
Free radical damage: exercise causes free radical damage. A free radical is an atom or a group of atoms that is short one electron and is highly unstable. In order to restabilize, the atom will seek out and steel another electron from another part of the cell. Free radicals can also be called oxidants because oxygen is usually the atom that loses an electron. Anti-oxidents are vitamins (C and E) and vitamin-like nutrients (OPC) that neutralize free radicals.
From Burke, Edmund. Optimal Muscle Recovery (Garden City Park, NY: Avery Publishing Group, 1999).
"If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health."
If you workout longer than 90 minutes you need more than just water. You need to replenish your electrolytes, carbohydrates (CHO), and protein. You must also remember to drink water throughout the remainder of the day because you cannot fully rehydrate by just gulping down water immediately after the workout. Your urine should be the color of Chardonnay wine (pale yellow)- between #1 and #3 on the chart below. If it is darker you are probably still dehydrated.
Some studies recommend that endurance athletes choose low glycemic carbohydrate (CHO) foods for their pre-event or pre-training meals. Unfortunately, other investigations, have not shown a clear benefit resulting from eating low GI carbohydrate foods before exercise. The majority of studies show that even if low GI pre-exercise meals produce better metabolic conditions during exercise compared with high GI meals, the differences are small and short lived. The bottom line is that athletes probably perform the same by just making sure to have CHO as a pre-event or pre-training meal.
Athletes should consume 50 to 100 ounces of water above and beyond their normal intake the day before the event. On the day of competition athletes should consume 20 to 32 ounces of cool water 2 hours prior to the event. Eliminate bladder 15 minutes prior to the event. Drink 6 to 8 ounces of water five minutes before the event.
In endurance exercise events (greater than 90 minutes) the most common and effective strategy used by athletes to promote fuel availability is to consume carbohydrate-rich drinks or foods during the event. A beverage with 30-80g of CHO should be consumed every hour. E.g.. a 4%-8% beverage means that it has 4g-8g CHO per 100ml, so one liter per hour is recommended. For all day events, i.e.. track and field, a moderate amount of sodium in the drink is necessary.
The Rapid Phase: first 30 minutes after training
The Intermediate Phase: 90 minutes to 2 hours
The Longer Phase: 2 - 20 hours
Rehydration requires a special fluid intake plan since thirst and voluntary intake will not provide for full restoration of sweat losses in the acute phase (zero to six hours after workout) of recovery. Weigh yourself before and after exercise. A loss of one kilogram equals a fluid deficit of one litre. Remember that you will continue to lose fluid during recovery via urine losses and ongoing sweating, and that these losses must also be replaced. Typically you will need to consume about 1.5 times the volume of your post-exercise fluid deficit over the subsequent two to four hours to fully restore fluid balance. Cool drinks (eg 10-15°C) are preferred in most situations.
Replacing sodium losses helps maximize the retention of ingested fluids by minimizing urine losses. Options include sports drinks, commercial oral rehydration solutions, salty foods, or salt added to post-exercise meals. This is particularly important when fluid deficits are greater than 2-3% of body weight or 2 litres. A high-sodium beverage such as an oral rehydration solution (50-90 mmol/L or 2-5 g of salt per litre), or salt added to post-exercise meals, may be the best way to guarantee efficient and rapid rehydration after significant fluid loss. Caffeine-containing fluids (eg cola drinks) and alcohol (avoid for 24-36 hours after hard workouts) are not ideal rehydration beverages since they may increase urine losses. However, recent studies have found "little evidence to support the idea that caffeinated drinks have an adverse effect on hydration during post-exercise recovery." (Peak Performance, Issue 212, p. 9)
Where possible, avoid post-exercise activities that exacerbate sweat losses-for example, long exposure to hot spas, saunas or the sun.
0.6g/kg lean body mass. For example, if the athlete is 90kg at 10% body fat, then the athlete should consume 50g protein after the workout in a liquid form. Whey protein is probably the best for post workout absorption.
Rapid resynthesis of muscle glycogen stores is aided by the immediate intake of CHO. The amount is based on training volume. A general rule is about 2g/kg bodyweight. A more specific program is:
12-72 reps per workout: 0.6 g/Kg/LBM (Lean Body Mass)
73-200 reps per workout: 0.8 g/kg/LBM
200-360 reps per workout: 1.0 g/kg/LBM
360-450 reps per workout: 1.2 g/kg/LBM
Charles Poliquin says, "Regarding the source of carbohydrates post-workout, I have experimented with various sources, I like using fruit juices with a high glycemic index (i.e. pineapple, grape) to provide 30-40% of the carbs, the rest of the carbs coming from carb powders such as Ultra Fuel from Twinlab."
"For variety sake, I will use different types of juice like a berry blend. You can also any type of mushy fruit like bananas or peaches. For seriously underweight athletes, I may use pineapple and/or corn flakes to drive the glycemic index upwards. Instead of using maltodextrin, you can also use desiccated honey."
Properly balanced meals throughout the remainder of the day are essential.
"Exercise without supplementation is suicide, these are the words of Dr. Joel D. Wallach. And how true they are. EXERCISE WITHOUT COMPLETE AND OPTIMAL SUPPLEMENTATION IS SELF DESTRUCTIVE, and suicide. Farmers and ranchers very systematically put in vitamins, minerals and trace minerals in animal feeds to prevent and cure disease and illnesses. They learned that all working and producing animals, (all the way from the cow to the race horse), need additional nutrients above and beyond subsistence and maintenance levels. The same goes, and more so with humans. In many studies done we find an increase in the frequency and severity of sports injuries, behavioral problems, degenerative diseases, and even death in athletes because of this neglect....
Unsupplemented high-output athletes are more susceptible to emotional, traumatic, and degenerative diseases than the classic couch potato (or is that potato?). Certainly the average weekend athlete with common sense would not throw their life away by not supplementing with the known 103 essential nutrients each day (72 minerals, 16 vitamins, 12 essential amino acids and 3 essential fatty acids). Certainly then, the highly conditioned and trained serious athlete who invests considerable amount of time and money in their training and fitness programs would not throw their health or lives away by not supplementing. Yet the majority of people who exercise do not supplement because they have bought into the medical dogma that if "you eat right, you do not need to supplement, you can get everything you need from the four food groups" (WHICH IN MOST CASES IS TONS AND TONS OF TOO MANY CARBS).......
Or if you supplement "it only gives you expensive urine". Our farm and range soils are so depleted of nutrients, as a result of 100 to 200 years of intensive farming without appropriate mineral replacement. Why is it they cannot seem to make the connection that the food on their plate is anemic in nutrients? Two and two still equals four, so be smart as an athlete and supplement. Not only will it enhance your performance but it could save your life."
According to a report in the June 17, 1999 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs- aspirin, ibuprofen [Motrin, Advil, Nuprin], naprosyn [Aleve], Lodine, Votaren, etc.) caused fatal ulcers and killed about 16,500 people in 1997. If the toxic effects of NSAIDs were given its own category, it would be classified as the 15th most common cause of death in the U.S. NSAIDs cause more deaths than bone marrow cancers, asthma, cervical cancer or Hodgkin's disease and about as many as HIV/AIDS (Journal of Rheumatology 1999;26 Supp56:18-24). To make matters worse, these ulcers and other gastrointestinal complications are often not preceded by warning signs. Do I have your attention? Is this really the way to fight boomeritis?
Researchers looked at patients who had undergone spinal fusion treatment, where two or more vertebrae are fused together, and discovered that patients who had taken a conventional NSAID (Toradol) were five times less likely to achieve successful union of the vertebrae than those who had taken no NSAID. (Spine 1998;23(7):834-838)
Stretch-induced muscle injuries or strains, muscle contusions and delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) are common muscle problems in athletes. Anti-inflammatory treatment is often used for the pain and disability associated with these injuries. The most recent studies on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in strains and contusions suggest that the use of NSAIDs can result in a modest inhibition of the initial inflammatory response and its symptoms. However, this may be associated with some small negative effects later in the healing phase. Corticosteroids have generally been shown to adversely affect the healing of these acute injuries. Animal studies have suggested that anabolic steroids may actually aid in the healing process, but clinical studies are not yet available and the exact role of these drugs has yet to be determined. Studies on anti-inflammatory treatment of DOMS have yielded conflicting results. However, the effect of NSAIDs on DOMS appears small at best. Future research may have to focus on different aspects of these injuries as the emphasis on anti-inflammatory treatment has yielded somewhat disappointing results.
Abstract from Anti-Inflammatory Treatment of Muscular Injuries in Sport: An Update of Recent Studies, Sports Medicine, Volume 28, Number 6, 1 December 1999, pp. 383-388(6)
So how can we fight boomeritis (inflammation) naturally:
Sleep deprivation causes decreased reaction time and diminished ability to sustain attention. These skills, called psychomotor vigilance, are needed for not only sports performance but also everyday activities such as driving. They are highly sensitive to sleep loss, often experienced by athletes on road trips, particularly after they cross multiple time zones.
Chronic sleep restriction, widespread among American adults, has serious adverse consequences for physical and mental performance, asserted sleep researcher William Dement, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University. The most important aspect of the body's homeostatic regulation of sleep, he said, is that sleep loss is cumulative. "When total nightly sleep is reduced by exactly the same amount each night for several consecutive nights," he reported, "the tendency to fall asleep in the daytime becomes progressively stronger each day."
Dement calls this phenomenon "sleep debt." As he explains, the brain records as a debt every hour of sleep that is less than a person's nightly requirement. This snowballing debt may include an hour of sleep lost a week or month ago, as well as the hour lost last night, he speculated. A large sleep debt can be reduced only by extra sleep.
In a landmark 1994 National Institute of Mental Health study, subjects stayed in bed in the dark 14 hours every night for 28 consecutive nights. At first, they slept as long as 12 hours a night, suggesting they entered the study with sizeable sleep debts, Dement said. By the fourth week, their sleep stabilized at a nightly average of eight hours and 15 minutes-a figure interpreted to mean that most adults need this amount of sleep each night.
Even apparently healthy, experienced exercisers undergo constant fluctuations in their health status. Fatigue from previous training sessions, impending illness, stress, and other factors can quickly and dramatically increase your risk of injury. Remain aware about your perceived comfort levels. Often, the body can be more "honest" about how it's feeling than the person occupying that body! Err on the side of caution. Long and slow wins the game. Smart trainees value safety and injury prevention over rapid changes in body composition. Make a chart for each day of the month and rate each of the following variables on whatever scale you wish.
Weight, Body temperature, Pulse rate, Hours of sleep, Times up Sleep, Stress, Fatigue, Soreness, Stiffness, Quality of workout, Mood, Appetite
I like a 0-10 scale. For example, if I felt very fatigued upon awakening, I would rate fatigue a 7 or 8 (10 would be complete exhaustion) and if I felt energetic, I would rate fatigue a 0 or 1 (0 would be full of energy and ready to go!).
A simple assessment can be done each morning by answering the following questions. The answer must be yes to all these questions; otherwise take the day off or go easy.
If the difference is greater than 15-20 beats then it is probable that the athlete has not recovered from the previous days training or is under stress. The athlete should consider adjusting the training program to allow him/her to fully recover.
Almost all the available creams and ointments have two main ingredients: menthol and camphor. They may differ in concentration. Additionally, some have capsaicin, which is a pepper derivative that some people fine too hot on their skin. Some have methyl salicylate, which is a topical aspirin derivative. These creams do not "fix" anything, nor do they truly warm-up your muscles. They do help decrease pain by confusing the nerve endings in the skin. Your skin feels the cream, not the pain. They can be used before and/or after a workout, but they DO NOT take the place of moist heat or ice.
Type of bed: I prefer either the Tempurpedic or Select Comfort beds
Position: On your side with a pillow between the knees and a pillow that fills in the distance from your ear and neck to the edge of your shoulder.
Supplements: 5-hydroxytryptophan and melatonin (be careful, no more than 1 gram)
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