Baby Boomer’s Guide to Fitness
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Is the Risk Worth the Reward?
Remember, when lifting weights or participating in a high intensity activity, your joints are taking on an increased load. Always ask yourself: Is the reward worth the risk?
Every day in the sports section of the newspaper, we read about golfers, tennis players and baseball players who have shoulder, knee and hip joint problems and don’t give it a second thought.
Well, maybe you should, especially if you exercise on a regular basis. Remember, when lifting weights or participating in a high intensity activity, your joints are taking on an increased load.
Always ask yourself: Is the reward worth the risk?
In most cases, especially in older adults, I start programs with body weight and light tubing ROM exercises to begin the strengthening process. This enables the individual to ‘memorize’ neuromuscular patterns which will allow better exercise form when more resistance is introduced.
Simply put: Good Form = Good Exercise
No matter how much the resistance, if the form is bad the rate of return is greatly diminished.
Here are some tips for better form and results:
One of the most popular exercises for this muscle group is the overhead press. One of my rules on working shoulders is if you can’t see your hands in your peripheral vision; there is a good possibility that you’re doing more harm than good. Will this movement improve deltoid strength? Most definitely, but in the long run it could cause rotator cuff injuries. I recommend exercises such as lateral and horizontal raises and extensions (with small weights and tubing). It doesn’t take much resistance to develop the shoulders and using these exercises, and you’ll be able to still see your hands reducing the possibility of injury.
Lying face down, place hands beneath your hip bones. Slowly raise one leg toward the ceiling until you feel your glute fire up. If your hip loses contact with your hand, then you have over extended the joint resulting in a diminishing return to developing the muscle group. The hip is a ball and socket joint similar to the shoulder so be aware of rotation during exercise. Keep that leg straight as it goes up and down.
The knee is a very complex joint. Though its action is hinge-like, the knee is held in place by only ligaments—there are no boney protrusions like the elbow. These ligaments can be stretched to a point where they develop laxity (looseness) and lose some of the strength they need to stabilize the joint.
In most health clubs, the most popular exercise for the quads is the leg extension. This is an excellent exercise to increase quadriceps strength and size…if done correctly. Most people just throw the weight up and let it drop. I recommend slow and steady getting peak contraction at the top of the movement by pausing. I also believe that when the lower leg is returned to the starting position, it should be at a perfect right angle (90 degrees) to the upper leg. Any more can eventually cause ligament or cartilage damage.
I hope these tips will be of help. Remember, you are going to have those joints a long time—take care of them and they’ll take care of you.
Robert Bresloff is a Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Therapist, Adaptive Fitness Specialist, a Specialist in Fitness for Older Adults and Endurance Trainer with The International Sports Sciences Association. He owned and operated, Total Fitness Concepts Inc for 10 years. He has written for Masters Athlete Magazine, The Waukegan News Sun and trade e magazines and recently released his first fitness book, 'The Baby Boomer's Guide to Fitness"
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