At age 70, most of us find that we have slowed down in our physical activity: no more 4-mile runs 3 to 5 times per week; no more tennis twice a week; nor a round of golf on the weekends. Bit-by-bit, we reduce our exercise program. We cut back on our running distance or frequency, or perhaps trade in our running shoes for a bicycle. We switch from singles to doubles. We play 9 holes of gold instead of 18 – or, heaven forbid, use a golf cart!
Even with this reduced activity, we often find aches and pains that were not there when we were younger – our rotator cuffs are worn; our discs have lost their elasticity; our cartilage in some joints may be worn. For all the pain and stiffness we feel, this is no reason to give up regular exercise.
We just need to alter our rhythms, and add new strategies in order to maintain a sufficient range of motion and strength. For some of us, the simple addition of alternative therapies – chiropractic; acupuncture; supplements – will be enough to maintain our health; for others, we may need regular PT visits, or injection therapy.
Our primary care physician should make sure there are no more serious issues – rheumatoid arthritis; Lyme disease; vitamin deficiencies; even muscle weakness arising from the commonly prescribed lipid-lowering drugs – to which we should stay alert. Following this a visit to your orthopedic surgeon is in order.
No part of our body has served us so faithfully through a lifetime of movement than our joints, and an orthopedic surgeon can insure that they keep serving us. Most suggested orthopedic treatments will be non-surgical, but there may be occasions where an arthroscopic procedure, a trigger finger release, a carpal tunnel release or a microdiscectomy would allow us to return to a high level of activity. The physicians at Manhattan Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Group are available to evaluate all your aches and pains.
The mantra for the aging athlete of all abilities is: “Modify, but never give up!” With the assistance of our doctors and other health care professionals, all of us greying golfers, tennis players, cyclists, and rollerbladers can achieve this.
Age brings wisdom, and following this wise path of modified activity, we can all keep exercising right into our 90s!