Physical Therapy – Helping Boomeritis
Are you experiencing elbow pain during gripping, shoulder pain when reaching, back or neck pain with increased activity, or knee pain that makes walking difficult? Are you between the ages of 40-60? You may be experiencing a common condition called boomeritis.
What is Boomeritis? Boomeritis as defined by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, refers to related injuries suffered by baby boomers who are trying to maintain a more healthy lifestyle than their previous generation. Born between 1946 and 1964, they make up 30% of the people active in sports and recreational exercise. Smack in the middle of this age range, are the people in their forties – the decade
experts say that our muscles, tendons and joints start to “show their age”.
Just as our skin beings to age with wrinkles because of loss of elastin, the same process is happening inside our bodies. As we age, our joints have less lubrication and our muscles and tendons lose their elasticity. When we over stress our muscles and joints with repetitive movements, or perform an activity our body is not conditioned for, we cause micro-tears and subsequent inflammation in these tissues. These micro-tears heal with scar tissue, making them prone to further damage and often leading to problems such as tennis elbow, shin splints, bursitis and rotator cuff tendonitis.
If our weight bearing joints become stiff and lose their support from the surrounding muscles, they will wear out faster, especially when subjected to increased loading. A perfect example of this is how many people are on waiting lists for total hip and knee replacements. Perhaps many of these people would not require this surgery if they had received effective treatment intervention earlier on.
Can you prevent boomeritis? Perhaps not in total, but with increased public education and effective instruction in exercise routines, many of these conditions treated by the medical system today, can be prevented or at least minimized.
Physical therapists are huge advocates of preventative health. As therapists, there is a whole spectrum of conditions we treat, as people are aging and yet making efforts to stay fit. One of the biggest elements contributing to “boomeritis” is lack of knowledge regarding understanding the correct way to exercise. People are constantly hurting themselves by improper techniques during exercise or starting an exercise program too aggressively. Lack of body awareness, postural alignment and correct use of the right muscles, are all contributors to boomeritis. Physical therapists try to encourage clients to see them prior to starting an exercise program or beginning a fitness group to teach them proper techniques and assess their muscle and joint function. Different stretches and strengthening exercises are suitable to different body types.
Some people have certain pathological conditions that should avoid certain exercises. A little individual help goes a long way in preventing injury and making your exercise program safe and enjoyable. The old saying, “its not what you do, but how you do it”, is the key to preventing boomeritis. Avoid the myth, “no pain, no gain”, especially when just starting out on a new program.
What can you do once you have developed “boomeritis problems”? Seek the help of a physical therapist in the early stages. Physical therapists are professional health care providers dedicated to helping restore mobility and function following injury. If you have developed a condition such as rotator cuff tendonitis, bursitis, tennis elbow or back and neck pain, see your local physical therapist. Intervening without drugs or surgery, physical therapy is a wise choice to assist in recovery from injury and learn preventative measures.
When you begin any new exercise or activity, always start slowly and increase the challenge over time. Always warm up and stretch prior to your exercise. Regular exercise is the most important factor in helping ward off many age related problems. You lose your physical ability through disuse, not age!Learn to exercise safely, and if your body runs into problems, seek the advise of a physical therapist
Article by Don Sorensen BSC.P.T., A.T. Dip C.A.F.C.I
Registered Physiotherapist & Owner of Body 'N Balance Physiotherapy
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