GET ACTIVE COLUMN: How to stay in shape as we get older

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Warren Hutson, of Buxton Osteopath, gives advice on white tissue injuries in his latest ‘Get Active’ column.

It’s the “white tissue” injuries that tend to curtail improvements in athletic performance as they can seriously affect the training of the older athlete.

The “white tissues” are the tissue such as tendons, fascia, disc, cartilage and meniscus and they do start to progressively degenerate, as we get older from around the early 20-30s.

Whether we like it or not, this process will happen and it will turn into different types of injuries that seem to happen as we get older.

Achilles tendon ruptures peak at around 35, degenerative meniscal tears around the 40’s and cartilage wears thin and leads to osteoarthritis in our 50s and 60s.

We can halt (and reverse) the hormone degradation that appears to precede this white tissue degeneration.

This involves chemical enhancement, which in most countries is illegal and ill-advised due to some possible serious side effects.

But practically speaking we can’t change this age-related effect, so we need to work with it.

Older athletes do need more recovery than their younger competitors.

The older athlete needs to train “smarter, not harder”.

Essentially, white tissue injuries are injuries for have for life.

They become chronic such as Achilles Tendinopathies that go from being painful and pain free, but they never recover and rarely go away.

Therefore whatever active exercise we are able to do, it needs to be persisted with for a very long time.

If we could encourage the older athlete to be more frequent at stretching and have frequent massages, this may have an effect on the fascia/muscle compartment and improve flexibility to guard against further injuries.

As we get older, we don’t need to train as much as we did when we were younger, but we have to have that residual base of fitness that we all need.

This carries on and is maintained to the next year every time we train or are active during our life.