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Running Past Middle Age - Times Supplement May 2016

Jenny discusses running past middle age with The Irish Times. This was published in the Irish Times Health Plus supplement 17th May 2016

 

 

As we age, we lose flexibility. Much of middle age involves sitting commuting or travelling with work, sitting in the office then sitting on the couch all evening.

Running maintains fitness and mobility regardless of your age; it maintains bone mineral density which is vital for preventing Osteoporosis. The key to effective (and enjoyable) running in middle age is injury prevention.

Your past history will affect the success of your running. An old unresolved injury needs input from your Chartered Physiotherapist.

Our body repairs more slowly in middle age and niggles can persist, with minor strains becoming major injury. Examples of common injuries include Achilles tendinopathy, knee pain, shin splints and heel pain.

A review with your Chartered Physiotherapist should check joint mobility, muscle flexibility, and core and lower limb strength, as well as a biomechanical assessment. Weak buttocks, flat feet and tight quadriceps are just some of the issues that screening can identify, and help prevent progressing to injury.

Warm up to prepare your body before you run, with dynamic stretches to move your joints and muscles through their full range.  Pick out 3 stretches to work on daily, to move your joints and muscles further and prepare your body for running. Static stretches at the end, with regular foam rolling helps to maintain muscle length.

Vary the surface, and how you run and include faster sessions and even hills to maintain good muscle mass. Add cross-training to prevent overuse of muscle groups, reduce load through your joints, and improve overall fitness levels.

Don’t do too much, too soon. If it has been years since you ran, start with a gradual running programme, with plenty of rest between sessions. Don’t ignore flexibility and strength as you increase your running tolerance.