by Sarah Johnson
If you saw me today and I glared at you, I apologize.
As I write this, it’s one of the best snow days of this powder-starved ski season, but I’m sitting in the lodge with ice on my ankle and a scowl on my face. I tweaked my ankle badly in an awkward fall on my second run, and there will be no more skiing for me this three-day holiday weekend.
It could, of course, be worse. A friend of mine stopped by my pity party here in the corner and told me about another friend who fell earlier this winter in a similar manner. She ended up with a torn ACL and a tibia fracture. Her friend’s comment: “That’s what you get with 50-year-old knees.”
Injury is a risk with any athletic activity, and aging definitely complicates things. I’m young enough that age-related injury isn’t a major concern yet, but I hate to be slowed down by getting hurt. Days like this get me thinking – What can I do now, that will help me stay active and injury-free later in life?
We all become more susceptible to injury as we get older. Typically our endurance declines over time, and exertional injuries are common due to the degenerative nature of the aging process. The price of getting out of the game, however, is much higher, with strong correlations between inactivity and chronic illnesses like heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
I’d much rather establish a routine now that diminishes the likelihood of injury and disease later, so that 20 years from now I’ll be the spry senior on the slopes, skiing with my grandkids.
Flexibility is critical to maintaining agility, a key factor in keeping injury at bay. Years of athletic activity can also result in muscular imbalances that create discomfort and make injury more likely. Regular stretching protects your body, helps correct these imbalances, and feels great, too.
Strength-training is also important, as it helps offset the loss of strength, muscle mass and bone density that comes with getting older. Know your limits, so you don’t injure yourself trying to prevent injury, but don’t neglect this aspect of training. Seeking some guidance, either by taking a class or engaging a trainer for a few sessions, is probably a good idea, especially if you’re new to using weights.
Sufficient sleep, good nutrition and adequate recovery time are important at any age, too.
Tonight, the Olympics are still going, and I’ll live vicariously through ski racing on TV. Lindsey Vonn bounced back gracefully after injury kept her from skiing in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, so I can probably manage to get over my grouchiness about missing President’s Day Weekend.
As soon as I’m able, though, it’s yoga and weights for me. I’m going to have grandkids to ski with when the 2038 Winter Olympics come around.