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Sports Injuries and The Aging Athlete

Not as young as you used to be? That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy physical activities.

People like Al Hanna, a 69 year old man, is a reminder that old age isn’t synonymous with bad health or inactivity. He recently reached the southern summit of Mt. Everest, a remarkable achievement for people of all ages. His feat is just one example that mind over matter really is half the battle.

But even with rare athletes like Hanna,  it is natural for your body to readjust and slow down as you get older. Even the most healthy individuals can expect to see a difference in their aptitude during their 30’s versus their 70’s. Here are a few normal signs of the natural aging process:

Muscle Strength

Muscle strength and muscle mass tend to weaken over time due to loss in our muscle fibers. Visits to the hip or knee doctor are common as areas of our body that experience constant use can wear out. Exercise and weight lifting can help slow down this process of aging.


In addition to loss of muscle strength and mass, older athletes can also lose their flexibility over time. This makes them more susceptible to injury than younger athletes who are doing the exact same activities. No matter what age you are, stretching and warming up before an exercise is key to preventing injury, especially as you age.


Most running related injuries have one thing in common — too much running. Over-exercise becomes even more dangerous as we age. Common symptoms include back pain, bursitis, stress fracture, hamstring injury, kneecap pain, shin splints, achilles tendonitis, heel pain, Morton’s Neuroma and more. To avoid a trip to the doctor’s office or an emergency operation with the orthopedic surgeon, it’s important that runners balance their exercise with weight training and give their bodies time to rest and recover. Having the right running shoes can also help prevent injuries, as well as improve overall performance.   

Bay Area Orthopedic Doctor

Although the natural aging process makes older athletes more prone to sports related injuries, this is no reason to avoid physical activity altogether. With the right preparation, stretching, conditioning and by keeping a balanced workout regimen, older adults can enjoy the benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle. If you are interested in learning ways to optimize your health and prevent injury as you age, talk to a sports medicine doctor at IASM. Call (415) 923-0944 today.

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