It seems to be a common thought process that as one ages, they naturally lose their muscle mass and there is nothing to be done about. People think their joints cannot get any better without surgery, or that they will never be able to do what they used to do before; so movement and exercise cease. The thought process of society, is to accept the rickety joints, the achy bones and the decreased range of motion and live in as little pain and movement as possible. This however could not be farther from the truth.
It is common knowledge and scientifically proven that as one ages certain metabolic processes change in their body. One of the By Products of thee metabolic changes and possibly The most common term spoken by medical professionals when it comes to the older population is muscular atrophy. Atrophy is defined simply enough as wasting away. This translates to “muscular wasting.” Science has shown us that as one ages their muscle mass atrophies, or decreases/wastes away. By the time someone is 50 years of age, their body has lost 10% of their muscular mass (Mazzeo, 2016). As a person increases their age, the rate of muscular atrophy drastically increases from as much as 15% all the way up to 30% (Mazzeo, 2016).
The question remains then what can one do to increase their muscle mass and/or prevent them from losing it? The answer lies within the iron. Resistance and strength training may seem like a scary thought to some – especially when joint pain and discomfort is associated with movement outside of one’s comfort zone.
The idea of coming into a gym or ‘lifting’ weights is terrifying. One might be worried about injuring him or herself or breaking a hip in the gym, much less working with a personal trainer or strength coach and being pushed beyond your limits. And these concerns are valid ones. But those are all concerns for everybody when they walk into the gym or take part in a physical fitness routine.
Quite honestly leaving your house and driving a car is statically one of the most dangerous things we can do in our lives. But strength & conditioning for senior populations is imperative. By coming in, doing properly programmed strength and resistance training, a client can slowly start to increase their muscle mass and increase their joint flexibility and range of motion.
The less one allows their muscles to atrophy, the healthier they will be, the ease of activities of daily living will increase and most importantly risk for injury will increase. This is because most people attribute pain in their movement to bad bones, or what we know as orthopedic issues. When in reality most of the joint pain and back pain people over the age of 40 are experiencing is coming from ailments within the soft tissue. You see, muscle, tendons and ligaments suspend our skeleton, and are responsible for the alignment of every bone in our bodies. When muscles become weak and atrophied, imbalances occur between the muscles which pull and push. When this happens bones then get push or pulled out of proper alignment, and intense pain and aching can occur and overtime – serious damage to the joint.
Nearly 70% of orthopedic surgeries could be avoided with proper diagnosis and resistance and flexibility program prescription early on when symptoms of joint and back pain occur. But what’s generally prescribed is a reduction in movement. When in reality This reduction in movement is further atrophying weakened muscles and causes massive misalignment and incorrect suspension within the skeletal system.
Most patients that believe they are a candidate for an orthopedic surgery in the joint, or spine could greatly benefit from a professional strength & conditioning regimen. As little as two strength sessions and two flexibility sessions a week are enough to not only reverse muscular atrophy, but can balance the muscular system, realign joints and vertebrae, eliminate uneven pressure points throughout the body and begin rebuilding strength, mobility and balance.
Look for a strength coach, rather than just a personal trainer. Someone with medical field experience, experience working with athletes, and also post-rehabbing injuries. Ask them to assess your mobility and muscular imbalance, and your posture. A Competent strength coach will be able to then work with your orthopedic surgeon to pin point weaknesses and structural ailments that need to be strengthened and corrected. Most patients will notice huge improvement in as little as three weeks of training and development!
As the saying goes, you Use it or you Lose it! So find a Pro, and Get Moving!
Mazzeo, R. (2016). Exercise and the Older Adult. Retrieved 2016, from American College of Sports Medicine: “acsm.org/docs/current-comments/exerciseandtheolderadult.pdf”