I sprained my ankle a few months ago and it’s still bothering me. In the past I would have bounced back from it. I tried to. I climbed the CN Tower, ran many kilometers and hit the squat rack with a vengeance. But the damn pain wouldn’t go away.
I realized that I’m exercising wrong. As much as I hate to admit it, I got into the habit of “vanity workouts”. I have some pretty muscles. But what I lack is hip stability, lower back strength and my cardio could definitely be improved.
When we are on the “other half” of our lives, it’s not so much about looking good, but ensuring a decent quality of life when we are in our 80s. The ankle and knee pain will be a full-blown limp in 20 years.
We all develop movement patterns as we age. Some are based on compensation for weaker muscles, some are injuries that healed incorrectly. Some are postural challenges. It’s imperative to address these when you are young enough and have the physical resiliency to do so.
By continuing to train over dysfunctional movement patterns, you are reinforcing these weaknesses in your physiology and creating an imbalance in your body.
In my example, I lack hip stability. The muscles on the fronts of my thighs (and to a lesser degree) my glutes make up for this by bearing the load. This yanks on my knees and creates tension in my hamstrings. As a result, I don’t have a full range of motion (hence the ankle sprain) and when I bear weight on it, it only creates more of an imbalance. In addition, my brain knows that I have this instability. The brain’s job is to protect the body from injury. Therefore, I’m unable to fully fold forward and touch my toes because my hips can’t stabilize properly to do so.
So by being stubborn and continuing to squat with heavy weights, it’s just reinforcing this movement pattern. I decided to treat myself more like a client and work on building that hip stability (nobody wants to see a limpy fitness coach!)
Old dogs need to learn new tricks if we want to be healthy long term. By getting physio for injuries or hiring a trainer who is familiar with functional movement, you’re investing in a better body later on in life, when you need it most.