If you have reached your mid-40’s and you enjoy playing in tennis, basketball or racketball leagues, there is a good chance that you have experienced lower back pain. Although you may not feel much different than you did in your 20’s, your body has, in fact, changed and your exercise routine needs to change as well.
Assuming you have no significant medical issue such as a herniated disc or ligament tear, and you follow your doctor’s advice about exercise, there is no reason why you cannot remain competitive in your leagues for many years to come.
An effective warm up routine help prevent strains and sprains and may help prevent more serious injuries
as well. There are any number of effective warm up routines – you can use the following routine as a starting point for your own pre-exercise stretching.
Your warm up routine should become a habit. Middle aged bodies are extremely susceptible to muscle andligament strains and tears if you begin vigorous exercise without proper hydration and warm up.
Hydration should be your starting point for effective warm-ups. Many of the foods and liquids we consume as part of our diet can dehydrate our bodies, and many adults in America exist in an almost constant state of dehydration. At least 30 to 60 minutes before your workout, begin drinking copious amounts of water. Appropriate hydration alone will guard against many muscle strains.
Next, start your exercise with a total body stretch. In my routine, I take a 10 lb. medicine ball, extend my arms and swing the ball side to side in a 180 degree arc as I walk the length of a basketball court and back. This stretching exercise loosens my lower back, the muscles of my arms and my legs.
The next part of my warm-up routine involves the use of exercise bands. Exercise bands are large rubber bands that are usually sold in a package of 3, with different tensions. In my case, the blue band is the thickest, followed by the red band, then the yellow. I put one of the bands around my ankles then I use a “crab walk” going forward for the length of a basketball court. I will then crab walk backwards the same distance. Next I turn and slide side to side down the court and back. These rubber band exercises loosen the hips and lower body.
With the rubber bands removed, I then “high step” the length of the basketball court and back. A high step looks like an exaggerated march where you raise your knee as high as it can go while walking. This exercise loosens your lower back, thighs and knees.
The final part of my warmup requires the use of an exercise mat. I lie on my side with my body in a straight line and one leg resting on the other. I bend my top leg and slowly swing my knee forward and backward as far as I can go. This stretch warms up my hips and lower backs and it also requires the use of the arms for balance. Twenty to thirty of these hip rolls should be sufficient.
This entire warm-up routine may take 15 to 20 minutes and will prepare your body for more strenuous exercises. Like any exercise routine, stop if you become dizzy or experience any significant pain and seek prompt medical attention. I use this routine before my morning workout and before playing in my 40 and over basketball league.
Weekend warrior athletes and sedentary professionals who exercise regularly need to allow time for a regular warm-up routine before exerting themselves. If your warm-up routine covers all of your major muscle groups, you can avoid painful injuries.