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Aging but Active: Sports Safety for Baby Boomers

By Martha Michael

Chiropractic Care for Active Baby Boomers

Cliff diving in Acapulco. Landing a 360 on a skateboard. Skiing a double black diamond hill. If high jinks like these are a part of your past, but your future is closer to senior status, you may want to think about downgrading the extreme nature of your bucket list. Otherwise, your hobbies may send you hobbling into E.R.

Tacking Downwind

If your preferred form of transportation used to be a board with four wheels, you probably moved up to something more expedient in your adulthood. But if you still like a trip to the skate park with your kids, it’s no time to quit cold turkey. Just use some caution.

More than 50,000 hospital emergency visits in the United States are the result of skateboarding, says an article in The Philadelphia Inquirer. You can reduce the risks by suiting up with the best protective gear, for starters. If wearing a helmet wasn’t part of the culture a few decades ago, it may be a valuable investment now. But it has to fit correctly. Make sure your helmet:

  • Has a tightly-fitting buckle
  • Has pads that create a snug fit
  • Doesn’t impede vision or hearing
  • Has V-shaped straps around the ears

If you’ve felt powdery snow under your feet anywhere from Aspen to the Alps, you’re probably confident you’ve still got your skiing skill set. But if you’re among the 1.25 million individuals age 55 and older who still snowboard or ski, remember that the number of landings in the snow may have gone down, but your risk of injury has gone up.

If the last time you bought new ski gear Lindsey Vonn was on the bunny hill, it’s time to at least have your bindings checked. Or better yet, replace everything you own. Academic ski safety researcher Anne Terwiel tells Huffington Post that boots are the most important piece of equipment.

“Good fit is essential for boots to be comfortable while doing the important job of transferring movement effectively to skis, especially skis with modern design and technology,” Terwiel says. “But it’s not unusual to see Boomers wearing rear-entry boots from the 1980s. You can understand why. They’re easy to get on and off and ever soooo comfortable.”

Alan K. Engen, the retired director of skiing at Alta, Utah, suggests you choose shorter skis for maximum control, which translates into less falling. It’s also a good idea to rent skis, because resort experts can provide you with equipment that matches your ability and is appropriate for snow conditions.

If that sounds a little disappointing, at least it comes with some good news: The AARP says there are numerous resorts offering free or very low-cost ski passes for seniors.

Jumping into Routine

Bumps for Boomers in Aspen is a ski lesson program for intermediate-level baby boomers. Founder Joe Nevin believes the best safety prevention for older skiers is conditioning because of the physicality of the sport. Despite the program’s instruction aimed at reducing the skier’s need for maximum athleticism and fast reflexes, the condition of your body offers you the best chance at safety on the slopes.

Whether you’re aging out of sports involving water, snow, ice or dry land, there are ways to minimize a growing number of physical limitations. What you need are strength, endurance, and range of motion.

An estimated 5 percent of adults 65 and older turn to chiropractic care for treatment, according to the journal Chiropractic & Manual Therapies. And it offers more than just intervention. People are increasingly making it a part of their healthcare routine.

Nearly 1 in 6 chiropractic patients are at least 65 years old, many seeking treatment for musculoskeletal pain, typically in the lower back, the journal says. But regular visits to a skilled chiropractor offers patients preventative care -- mitigating the onset of illness through a personal health maintenance plan.

Spinal manipulation Therapy, or SMT, delivers a therapeutic stimulus to the joint complex, and practitioners can choose from a range of velocities and low force adjusting instruments that can be customized according to the age of the patient. Randomized controlled trials show that SMT successfully improves low back pain, headaches, and extremity joint conditions for seniors. When chiropractors apply the right use of force according to the age and frailty of the patient, research finds that older individuals experience fewer adverse events.

A little golf. Wine and cheese parties. Bunco with the girls. These kinds of activities are great when you’re really slowing down. But when you’re in good health, you can still swim, play and climb -- you just have to maintain a wellness program as you age. Because if you’re backpacking a challenging trail, you hope to see beautiful scenery … not cross the great divide before your time.

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