What causes exercise-related injuries in older adults?

As our bodies age, they will not adapt to exercise as they once did. Being able to run for the distance the distance you used to run or being able to lift a certain amount of weight may not be as feasible.  Over years of wear and tear, our bodies will not bounce back as they once did.

Some issues that may occur with older adults may include:

  • Arthritis
  • Tendonitis
  • Tennis elbow
  • Pain may occur within the Achilles tendon, rotator cuff, and patella tendon

These are just some of the many. However, these are much more likely. Try and stay within your limits, it will benefit your body in the long haul.

Dr. Vonda Wright, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
For aging athletes and adult onset exercisers, the main problems reported are acute muscle strains and chronic tendonitis. The junction between the tendon and the muscle is especially vulnerable since the structure of the muscle is less "stretchy" in this area than in the middle of the muscle. In addition, when muscles are fatigued, they lose their ability to absorb energy and are less coordinated. This makes them susceptible to injury during so-called eccentric movement. ("Eccentric" means that the muscle is contracting as it is lengthening. This predisposes it to injury.)
Too much, too soon, too often, and with too little rest -- these terrible toos predispose us to overuse injuries. Unfortunately, these problems are common in older athletes and often result from a condition called tendonosis. While tendonitis is the acute inflammation of the tendon, tendonosis is the longer term, cumulative effect of repetitive microtrauma to the tendon that does not properly heal.
The Achilles tendon, patellar tendon, rotator cuff tendons, medial epicondylitis (inside elbow), lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), and wrist tendons are all more vulnerable with aging.
As we age, our cells and tissues have less regenerative capacity than when we were younger. This leads to less durability of our muscles and tendons. Our musculoskeletal tissues also have a lower healing capacity, so it takes longer to recover between intense workouts. When not rehabilitated correctly, these overuse injuries can linger on and on, resulting in literally years of lost activity.

Fitness After 40: How to Stay Strong at Any Age

Continue Learning about Fitness for Seniors

4 Tips for Staying Mobile
4 Tips for Staying Mobile
A juicy orange. A handful of crunchy walnuts sprinkled on a leafy green salad. A sweet, sun-ripened pear. Turns out clean, natural foods like these do...
Read More
Can older people build muscle with resistance training?
Univ. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family MedicineUniv. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family Medicine
Older people can build muscle with resistance training. It is important for older people to remain a...
More Answers
How should I do resistance training as an older adult?
Sadie LincolnSadie Lincoln
Resistance training is important at any age.  Not only has it been shown to slow and even reverse th...
More Answers
What is a fun way for retired people to stay active?
Julie DuBois, NASM Elite Trainer, RDJulie DuBois, NASM Elite Trainer, RD
Everyone has a different idea of what type of exercise is the most fun.  It is important to find an ...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.