The Pain Free Athlete :: Age is not to blame for sports injuries

Many people will blame injuries and pain on their age. I’m here to tell you that giving up sports is not a certainty of growing older. Sports are not to blame for your injuries, either. Sports are not bad! We are designed to move and play for all of our days. However, the number of people participating in local sporting events steadily drops off with age. Typically the most populated age group is 30-39 with declines in the advancing decades.


Why do less people participate in sports as they grow older? Many time it is because of pain with the activity. If the pain is not due to age or sport, what is the cause? Our misaligned bodies! Pain and injuries occur when we take our unbalanced bodies into sport and push ourselves athletically, beyond our body’s capabilities; that’s when breakdown happen.


If you feel playing sports or age is the cause of your pain, I have some questions for you.

  • Have you always hurt when you did that sport?
  • If you answered no to the first question, what could be different now? (Besides age.)
  • Can other people play that sport pain free? Does your body hurt symmetrically on your right and left sides? Is one side older?

If you didn’t always hurt, other people can play without pain, and only one side of your body is affected, is it the sport that is the problem? Probably not.


Unfortunately, many of us do blame the activity for our injury, so we develop a strategy of avoidance. There is now a fear of pain associated with the activity, and we protect ourselves from further discomfort by avoiding the offending movement. Many clients tell me things like, “I don’t run because it hurts my [insert body part here].” Yes, running–as well as any activity–hurts when done in a compromised position and using poor form, but this can be changed. If you eliminate an activity every time there is pain, you will eventually have only a very small circle of non-threatening movements and sports. But pain now during an activity does not mean pain forever. You can be active without pain!


It is the position and condition of the body we bring into sports that matters. The longer we have been playing, and the more injuries we have accrued, the more out of balance our bodies tend to become. Advancing years, then, increase the chances of our bodies being asymmetrical, but that can be improved. It is the body brought into sport that predicts a person’s sports performance and dictates the injury risk, not the sports we play, and not our age.


It’s true, as we get older, the sports we enjoy may change. I don’t do gymnastics anymore and can now enjoy a round of golf, which was way too boring and slow when I was younger. What is important is that you are able to continue moving and challenging yourself physically for life. Therefore, let’s take a vow of sports activity for our lifetime and start filling up those older age groups in our local races. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if the 60+ age group was bigger than the 20+ age group? I would love to see that day!


What athletic challenging are you planning for yourself this summer? Let me know! Leave a comment.

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