Are you experiencing frequent exercise injuries in midlife? You’re not alone. Though I’ve addressed this topic before, I want to answer Dixie’s question from our Flipping 50 Insiders group on Facebook. (Are you there? https://facebook.com/groups/flipping50insiders)
Here’s Dixie’s question.
“I’m wondering what Debra would suggest for a 60-year old regular exerciser who is frustrated with setbacks caused by minor injuries. When I tried to increase my weight in strength training, I developed tennis elbow. So, I rested and healed and then started back at a lower weight, and then I had a hip flexor strain and I had to stop the squats. It’s frustrating when I want to move forward with my strength and keep getting little injuries that set me back. I thought if I was having this problem, others might be too, maybe it would be a good topic for a podcast.
I so agree and thank you to Dixie for asking about frequent exercise injuries in midlife (and beyond).
Here’s the scoop.
Causes of Frequent Injuries in Midlife (Especially for Women)
You may have heard me speak to the connection between hormonal changes and increasing occurrence of injury. We don’t have a reason why we can tie it to directly so there is no direct link and we can’t say well when this happens or that happens, or it’s this hormone specifically.
And because there’s so much variation from one woman to the next, it will probably be a long time before we ever do realize what that might be. But here’s what typically happens. A lot of the injuries I see that do occur tend to be chronic in nature.
Now, sometimes it can feel like it was acute, like it just happened, but take for example, the tennis elbow. So that’s an “it is” that’s tendinitis. That type of injury can happen at the wrist – carpal tunnel syndrome – probably a little bit more familiar to you. It can happen in the feet; plantar fasciitis is very common, and shoulders.
Chronic injuries are not uncommon among midlife women. They feel potentially like they happened when you started strength training (or other exercise) so it may make you think it’s an acute injury.
Acute? or Chronic?
It can feel like it’s because of the exercise in fact, and I’m going to be a little defensive. Sometimes the exercise is just the thing that makes you aware that that was probably going to happen anyway at some point. But you started doing something that added a little bit more controlled stress to an area that was already suffering from some kind of a weakness, and it just made a pre-existing condition show up. Exercise wasn’t necessarily the cause but it was what made you more aware of the symptom.
Hip flexor strain is very rarely is an acute onset. That’s chronic, because of our daily postures. (and our lack of daily stretches and strengthening to offset it. So, by the time this is published, we may be past, potentially, our posture masterclass, but that posture masterclass for flipping 50 will be in May.
If you can make it, I advise you to come, because when you can correct your posture and become more mobile, you’ll reduce injury risk.
Beyond Posture: Progression
Posture is one problem. But there’s also a compounding problem for women in midlife. As we get into this hormonal changes that – most likely estrogen levels have a protective fast factor for muscle, they’re a stimulus for maintaining and gaining lean muscle – as that goes down and cortisol goes up, we have more muscle breakdown. That spills over to ligaments and your other connective tissues – which are less resilient and elastic with age.
It’s a Combination of Things – Many Under Your Control
And that is a part, or a contributing factor in frequent injuries in midlife. Here’s the other one: your mentality is that when we’re not seeing progress, we work harder, right, we’re going to exercise more, or longer, or harder or the trilogy of all three.
That’s a fast track to injury, especially if we ramp it up too much too soon is the cause for injury at any age and phase of hormones. If you’re in midlife and you’re much more vulnerable to those injuries in any way. The third thing that’s catching up to us ladies is our micronutrient insufficiencies.
Micronutrients May Need Attention
I know if you eat healthy potentially you may be listening and thinking “I eat very healthy.” I know, but even if you eat healthy meaning everything you put into your body is healthy, that may be what you mean. We can’t eat between 21 and 27,000 calories, and for even many of the most healthy diets that how many calories a day it would take for us to reach even RDA sufficiency.
Take a good look at:
- Your daily habits and postures
- Exercise start and progression
- Nutritional status (do you supplement? Do you test to know where you are?)
- And… sleep, rest, and recovery
To avoid frequent injuries in midlife you need:
Frequent Injuries in Midlife Evolution
Feeling an injury, kind of afterward, feeling achy or sore or a little tenderness and then it goes away. That’s a level one issue.
When you feel it both during and after, that’s a level two. You didn’t listen to the Whisper it’s gonna get louder.
Then when you have it before you exercise during the exercise and after it, you exercise and it’s getting worse. That’s a level three.
It most likely took a long time getting there you just ignore the signs and symptoms so I think sometimes we have to be really honest.
Frequent Exercise Injuries in Midlife
Then if you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis, you got to look at what’s been your habit with footwear, and, and not just today, but for the last few years, the last decades. Were you always this way? And are you always wearing good supportive shoes? Flip Flops ladies, are garbage. Any heel, backless or strapless in the back, shoe should probably go and I know that one hurts sometimes.
This is definitely one of the most frequent exercise injuries in midlife. But you can heal. If you address all the things.
Even if the injury shows up because of the exercise, don’t blame the exercise, always. You’ve got an opportunity to improve your kinesiology now. You will get back to it and exercise will be a way to help yourself, stay strong, once you recover, and usually exercise of a different nature is the way to recover.
For any of you who’ve suffered with things like elbow tendonitis… Part of the problem sometimes can be your wrist. So, listen, if you’ll do this with me. I want to talk you through something. Imagine you have a dumbbell in your hand…
Hip Flexors (or High Hamstring Pulls)
There are a lot of little nuances but sitting for a long period of time, definitely contributes to that hip flexor strain, right and imbalance between your hamstring strength strength your quadricep strength, and your core, your abdominal strength. So, there are a lot of little pieces and you really want to look at the whole collective part. So, for those of you who are not really exercising very much right now need to get started or restarted perfect opportunity for you to get into a program and do some mobility with me for a few weeks even depending on when you’re hearing this before the program starts.
Hot, Not Bothered 10-day challenge, and we start officially June 1 of 2021, but if you get in now, the sooner you get in, the sooner you can start the mobility videos I’m giving you, early, early access to.
Resources Mentioned in this episode:
Flipping 50 Insiders Facebook Group
HOT, NOT BOTHERED CHALLENGE