Normally, a broken bone or torn ligament can take 6-12 weeks to heal and maybe longer. Often these injuries require surgery. When I was growing up, I broke my thumb and my arm playing football. Each injury took 6- 12 weeks to recover and it was extremely frustrating not to be able to use my arm. Casts and braces are claustrophobic and restrict how much activity you can do, including bathing and showering. And in most cases sports are out of the question.
In the cases of older adults, broken bones can start a chain reaction of negative health events which spirals out of control. An injury leads to inactivity, which leads to weakness, which leads to depression, which leads to inactivity, and so on. Don't go down this path.
Broken bones and torn ligaments are DANGEROUS health issues and should be taken SERIOUSLY.
They are dangerous because they are mentally draining, physically challenging, and require work to recover from. They limit our freedom, mobility, and quality of life. Again, you should take precaution to both:
1) prevent bone and joint injuries
2) recover quickly from bone and joint injuries
Some simple guidelines to prevent and recover from these traumatic joint injuries:
- Warm - up before you play any sport or exercise.
- Be careful of the type of footwear you're using. Wear the appropriate and recommended footwear. Example: Don't wear running shoes to play basketball.
- Stretch a little every day.
- Don't rapidly jump into an activity you aren't ready for. Someone asked me the other day if he should ski at age 65 after a 20 year break. I said "as long as you train for it 3 months ahead of time"
- Add some light jumping exercises like jumping jacks or jump rope into your workouts. A little bit goes a long way.
- Most acute injuries occur because of rigidity, stiffness, and/or imbalance within a joint. Warming up, stretching, and being conservative about what you're doing can prevent most injuries.
- If one joint or limb does happen to be injured, exercise the other one. Research shows that by exercising one limb, amazingly the other limb benefits even if it isn't actively involved.
- Eat a healthy diet with plenty of Calcium and Vitamin D. Protein is good too, but you're probably getting plenty of that.
- If you are injured, keep an eye on your weight and stay active anyway. There is always a way to stay healthy and in shape. If your leg is hurt, use an arm ergometer or do floor exercises. If your arm is hurt, walk or use a cardio machine.
The number one most important thing for keeping your bones strong is to do weight-bearing exercise! The Joints Need to be Loaded!
This simply means that you need to apply weight and pressure to your hips, knees, shoulders, spine, and wrists on a regular basis to keep them strong.
A Simple Bone - Density and Joint Health Routine:
Look these exercises up online and I plan to do a Video on this soon:
- Walking, Running, and Jumping - Do all 3 if you can but walk at a minimum.
- Squats - with or without added weight
- Wall Squats- for time
- Plank - use a bench or bed to make it easier if you need to. Do it in a push-up position to build strength in your wrists.
- Side Plank- knees straight is harder, knees bent is easier
- Lunges - you don't have to go deep, just step out and make impact
- Step Ups - climb steps every chance you get. Use your hips to "pull" yourself up
- Pulldowns - Use a machine for this one to add some reverse stress to your upper body
- Overhead Press- be careful that you don't use too much weight, but lifting over the head is very good to load the spine.
- Yoga- learn 4 or 5 Yoga Stretches. Skip the Hour Long classes and do a few of these every day for 5 or 6 deep breaths each.
The most common types of injuries are:
- Torn rotator cuffs from falling and reaching for the ground
- Prevent this by: rolling onto the ground, instead of stopping yourself, and by strengthening and stretching your shoulders
- Torn rotator cuffs from yanking leashes around dogs
- Prevent this by keeping your elbow bent slightly at all times when you walk your dog
- Broken pelvis in older adults
- Prevent this by - walking, running, squatting, lunging, and planking
- Broken wrists from falls
- Prevent this from planking in the push up position, or by doing push ups
- Ankle and knee sprains - can be prevented by stretching and doing squats or wall squats
The key is to put weight on the joints and stretch them, all of them, if you want to maintain strong bones and prevent joint injuries.
As always, doing it is the hard part.
Don't let a preventable injury get you down and restrict your freedom!
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