Playing Sports in Your 40s and 50s
When you were young, being active was who you were. Running around at recess, riding your bike, playing soccer or basketball with your friends, and participating in sports was a big part of your life. As you got older, being less active happened naturally. Maybe it was the pressures of college or careers or the time commitments of marriage and raising a family, but it seemed necessary to slow down and give up the sports that were so important in your younger days. As we age and hit new milestones in life, playing sports becomes more of a thing of childhood memories, and for many of us, our outlet for the sports we’ve loved exists primarily on our television screens.
Even though you slowed down as your priorities shifted, your love of sports and your desire to stay active never faded, so it’s essential to find a balance. Playing sports and a consistent exercise routine is vital for health and is an important social outlet. You can be more than being an armchair athlete. The sports you loved since childhood don’t have to just exist on the screen.
Now, more people are finding ways to balance the pressures and responsibilities of adulthood with the desire to stay active. Sports participation by those in their 40s and 50s is higher than ever. Why? Being middle-aged no longer means being old, and active lifestyles result in healthier people with more energy, more confidence, fewer health issues, and improved mental health.
Former football and track athletes may evolve into leisure golfers and tennis players, while others maintain their connection to team sports by playing in adult basketball, softball, or volleyball leagues. Some adult athletes evolved into solo sports pursuits like competitive cycling, rock climbing, running, or swimming.
It is important to remember that participating in sports in your 40s and 50s is not without risk. Your bones, joints, ligaments, and muscles no longer respond as they did in your teens, and recovery can take longer as physical damage requires more healing time. Fortunately, the knowledge around health, exercise physiology, and the human body is vast, with so much of it right at our fingertips.
Books, magazines, and online resources are readily available to help middle-aged athletes understand their bodies. However, all athletes should implement several basics, including stretching before a workout, staying hydrated, and eating a healthy diet with minimally processed foods. When something is causing you pain or discomfort, take it slow and consider getting it checked. That’s where our team at Northwest Orthopaedic Specialists comes in. When pain or an injury occurs, our team can get you back in the game quickly. Torn ligaments, torn cartilage, muscle weakness, joint instability, fractures, strains, and sprains can happen with the speed and stresses of sports. Our sports medicine doctors assess, diagnose, and treat sports-related injuries and conditions, and they understand that age is no barrier to sports desire or ability. The NWOS goal is to enable your body to do as much as you want to do, for as long as you want to do it.
While surgical interventions, non-surgical treatments, and physical therapy can assist with healing and recovery, the goal is to stay injury-free in the first place. As we age, it’s essential to take time to transition your body into activity to adapt rather than injure. Properly warming up (e.g., stretching) before starting your activity increases blood flow, lessens muscle soreness, prevents injury, and improves overall performance. The same can be said for cooling down. It’s vital to implement rest and recovery days as well.
There is no reason to hang up your running shoes, park your bike, sell your racquet, or give your golf clubs away just because you’re in your fourth or fifth decade of life. According to triathlete Sister Madonna Bruder, you may just be getting started! “The Iron Nun,” Sister Bruder began training at age 48 and completed her first triathlon at 52. At 75, she became the oldest woman ever to complete an Ironman triathlon. At 89, she was the oldest competitor in the race and was named to the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame. How’s that for inspiration?
While you may not aspire to Sister Bruder’s status, there is no reason to let the number of candles on your birthday cake dictate your activity. Sports can still be a big part of your life. Your team at Northwest Orthopaedic Specialists can help you keep it that way.