When it comes to being an athlete over the age of 40 the main focus should be injury prevention and longevity.
Treat yourself like an athlete. Phil Mickelson doesn’t roll out of bed and step onto the tee box without a few practice swings. While you may never win a Masters Tournament, you need to have the mindset of an athlete. In reality there is no difference in the exercises the pros are doing and what you should be doing.
As the body ages, everything decreases; our muscle mass, flexibility, stamina and our ability to recover from injury. Everything will take a hit UNLESS you work on it. You will only lose the things you don’t work on. A well-rounded program is important to keep overall fitness. But one of the most important things to work on is mobility. Can you move your body the way it’s supposed to? You may never move perfectly, but you can always make your movement more optimal. Improvements can be achieved at any age. Your body is mechanical. If the mechanics are wrong, you have a better chance of getting hurt. That probability goes up exponentially when you perform dynamic movements such as swinging a golf club or tennis racket.
You need to get your muscles warm before you ask the body to participate in dynamic movements. Warm ups should do just that, warm you up. Increasing your heart rate will increase circulation to the muscles and loosen up your joints. A proper warm up will dramatically reduce your risk of pulling/straining a muscle.
Think about how you feel after a bout of physical activity (hiking, tennis, paddleboarding, golf), after your drive home, and its time to get out of the car. Is it difficult to get out? Have a feeling of stiffness? A good cool down is a way of allowing your body to settle back into a GOOD resting position. If that position consists of sitting in your car for a half hour, that’s the shape that your body is going to take. Static stretches are great post activity because your muscles are warm and are more likely to be susceptible to lengthening. Laying flat on your back doing some deep breath work to down regulate for a few minutes is a great option. Be mindful of what you’re asking of the body post activity.
To summarize, think of yourself as an elite athlete, get your body mobile, warm up, and then cool down. If you work on these 4 things you will be able to continue enjoying everything you chose to do!
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