Injury Prevention: Resistance is Essential

How to take care of your body as an aging athlete

    Photo: Alain Lauga

Skiers’ knees, cyclists’ backs, and runners’ Achilles tendons are especially prone to injury.

Strong, efficient muscles help protect joints, so resistance exercise is crucial if you want to keep doing a demanding sport into your golden years. Skiers’ knees, cyclists’ backs, and runners’ Achilles tendons are more prone to injury, and strong hip abductors can help prevent injuries in knees, ankles, and feet. Strengthen the four trouble spots below by doing at least two sets of ten of the suggested exercises several days per week.

Hip abductors: Hips enforce postural stability, helping all the joints below them. They’re especially important for runners, since hip fitness helps control gait.
The Clam:
Lie on one side, an elastic band stretched over both thighs just above the knees. Bend your knees, then open the clam as far as you can by raising your top leg while keeping your feet together.

Lumbar region: Lower-back muscles beef up core power and protect spinal disks. Back work is particularly important for cyclists, who spend long periods in a hunched posture.
The Superman:
Lie on your belly with your arms outstretched in front of you. While trying to keep your knees straight, raise your feet and arms off the floor. Imagine forming a U.

Achilles tendons: Strengthening your Achilles not only helps prevent that awful snap when an unprepared tendon ruptures after an explosive move, but it can also help you avoid plantar fasciitis, that crampy tendon pain along the bottom of your foot.
Calf raises:
Place the front half of both feet on a platform about two inches off the ground (stairs work well), and raise your heels by pushing up onto your tiptoes.

Knees: The older you are, the more likely it is that you’ll have knee problems, thanks largely to the many miles you’ve put on them. Strengthening your quads can help prevent those injuries.
Wall squats:
With your back against a wall, ease into a sitting position, being sure not to exceed a 90-degree knee bend. Hold that pose for one to two minutes. Ease back up the wall. Repeat.

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