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Sports Exercise and Injury in Baby Boomer Population: What is soft Tissue Damage?

Updated on December 4, 2016
tobusiness profile image

Jo has been an ITU nurse at the London North West NHS Trust for 14 years. She obtained her RN at University College London Hospital.

Yoga; health for older people
Yoga; health for older people | Source
Doctors are seeing an explosion of baby boomers with exercise injuries...dubbed "Boomeritis"
Doctors are seeing an explosion of baby boomers with exercise injuries...dubbed "Boomeritis" | Source

Sports Exercise and injury in Baby Boomer Population: What is Soft Tissue Damage?

Physical health

The World Health Organization (WHO) defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

By participating in sports and various exercise programmes, many baby boomers are hoping to achieve a state of health and well-being that will not only lengthen their lives but will also increase their quality of life. However; research shows that for many, the physical activities are taking its toll.

The number of older people seeking medical attention for exercise and sports related injuries are second only to the common cold.

Physical health or Fitness is affected by many factors, age, level of fitness, training, lifestyle, illness, injuries, diet, rest and our general physical and psychological state.

People of all ages and varying degrees of fitness are participating more in sports and exercise. Older people, more than ever before are increasing their levels of exercise to maintain good health, remain active and attain longevity. This is not necessarily because of the fear of growing old, It is quite simple really; people who exercise regularly, live longer than those who don't.

By the year 2030, the number of individuals 65, years and over will reach 70 million in the US alone. The fastest growing age group in the population will be those that are age 85 and older.

The evidence clearly shows that regular exercise is an effective way to prevent and reduce many of the body's decline in function associated with ageing. Unfortunately; many baby boomers are cramming sports and exercise sessions only at weekends; they are ignoring aches and pain resulting from the intense physical activity, thereby, increasing the risk of injuries.

According to a US Consumer Product Safety Commission Report, sports injuries among baby boomers has increased by 33 percent from 1991 to 1998 and continues to rise each year. Studies show that sports-related injuries in baby boomers are mainly from activities such as:

Bicycling, (66,000 treated/year)

Basketball (48,230 treated/year)

Skiing (28,150 treated/year)

Exercising and running (32,370 treated/year)

These statistics do not represent the whole picture as it does not take into account chronic conditions such as arthritis. The projection for the number of knee replacement is that it will increase by 675% by 2030.

Although some injuries can be serious, others are relatively minor, bruises and sprains added up to almost 90,000 injuries per year; this equates to a 42 percent increase in the past decade.

Should Older People continue to exercise and take part in sports?

The clinical instructor at Yale School of Medicine emphasized that the majority of these injuries are preventable. The explosion of injuries seen in senior baby boomers is numerous, so much so that the experts named it “Boomeritis.”

Although we are healthier for exercising more often, we are also getting injured more; we now need to take a look at ways to reduce the high incidence of sports injury in older people.

As I prepared for my caravan trip to Hampshire and Dorset last week, I was looking forward to many long walks in the New Forest and surrounding areas of the beautiful English countryside. However; the nurse in me could not help but ponder on those statistics and the possibility of injuries and accidents, but of course, we were well prepared and returned home relaxed and uninjured.

Getting injured is probably the last thing we want to think about when participating in sports and exercises, we tend to focus on the benefits, and rightly so, but we can achieve so much more from exercising if we can prevent or minimise such accidents. We can do this if we're well prepared. By taking decisive preventative action, we can reduce and even prevent sports injuries.

Exercise and sports can be fun for most of us, especially when we can see real results. We can achieve the desired results by taking certain steps when planning an exercise programme,

Before embarking on the keep fit journey the individual must consider age, fitness level, aims, and objective, personal ability, the amount of time available, and always set realistic and attainable goals.

For older people over 75 years of age, activities that increase mobility and life skills functions may be more appropriate, as mobility is usually impaired in this age group making them less likely to engage in vigorous activities.

Tips for exercising and preventing Injuries

  • Planning, a professional personal trainer is usually a good place to start, check out prices. It is always best to use a trainer recommended by someone you know and trust, the same goes for gyms. As mentioned above, age and level of fitness are high on the list of important consideration when starting your exercise programme. Start slowly, don't do too much too quickly, the recommendation is to increase workouts by no more than 10% per week as you progress.

  • Warm up, before exercising this is especially important for older people, our tissue becomes less flexible as we age. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends exercise tolerance testing before older people begin a vigorous exercise program. However, with this age group, there are certain limitations in completing such tests adequately. Keep fit experts suggests, taking a few minutes to walk before stretching the back and the legs. Older muscles become less elastic making them more vulnerable to injury, stretching before and after workouts can help to increase the range of motion in joints and can also contribute to preventing injuries. The recommended time for warm-up is 10 to 15 minutes.

  • Cool Down, like the warm-up, cool-down is also important, cool down period helps to loosen up muscles to make an easier recovery.

  • Protection, appropriate safety protection should be worn. Safety protections include the wearing of a helmet when cycling, adults are twice as likely to die from head injuries as do children. Wrist guards for rollerblading, ageing bones are less dense and more brittle and are more prone to injury.

  • Hydration, research shows that older individuals, particularly those who do vigorous activities on the weekends, do not drink sufficient fluids when exercising, especially when the weather is warmer. They experience not only dehydration but also heat exhaustion. Maintaining proper hydration helps the body to perform better, stay healthier and sustain fewer injuries.

  • Know your body, Ditch the "No pain, No gain" attitude, know your body, next day pain is not an accurate measure of gain. Use ice on those muscles and get adequate rest when required. Always consult your doctor before embarking on a new workout programme.

Gardening is a good way to get regular exercise, it can also be very rewarding.
Gardening is a good way to get regular exercise, it can also be very rewarding. | Source

Best exercise program

Doing too much too soon is a sure way to get injured. The best exercise program is a carefully planned regular regime to maintain and improve general fitness.

The best exercise for all-around fitness should make the heart, lungs, muscles and joints work hard, examples include:

  • Cycling

  • Brisk walk

  • Swimming

  • Running

  • Jogging

  • Skipping

Also, consider:

  • Leg extensions
  • Strength training

  • Water aerobics

  • Yoga

Enjoyable ways to exercise and improve overall health includes taking part in a couple of different sports each week; this will help to keep the different range of muscles and joints active and improve the efficiency of the heart and lungs.

In addition to active exercise, it is important to improve joint flexibility. An individual can achieve a good level of joint flexibility, by doing exercises such as range-of-motion workout for about 10 minutes/day. Range-of-motion exercises will help to keep the joints supple and maintain muscle strength.

A well-planned program with sound knowledge of safe practice will help to achieve a good level of fitness and prevent injuries.

General Fitness

General fitness refers to the overall physical condition of an individual, from illness to peak condition. General fitness consists of four main components:

  • Endurance

  • Strength

  • Flexibility

  • Speed

The four elements are needed in varying proportions for different types of sports and exercise. Someone who runs long distances needs a higher level of endurance, a gymnast or ballet dancer requires strength and flexibility the sprinter needs speed and strength. It is possible to plan a training program for anyone by mixing the four main fitness components, depending on the chosen activity.

Research studies performed on men and women, 60 to 70 years old, to determine the effects of walking, jogging and cycling on strength, flexibility, speed and balance. Have provided evidence, that older adults can improve their functional capacity in response to exercise training significantly. Many of the adverse physiological changes that come with age are associated with a sedentary lifestyle.

There is 20 to 30% decrease in cardiac output by the age of 65. Maximum oxygen uptake decreases by approximately 9% and 5% per decade for sedentary men and women respectively (Elia, 1991).

The respiratory system has a 40 to 50% loss in forced vital capacity ( the total volume of air that can be moved in one breath voluntarily) and the maximum ventilation and alveolar size.

The muscular system has a 40% loss of muscle mass and 30% decrease in strength by age 70 (Rogers & Evans, 1993).

Where muscle fitness is concerned, it would seem that strength increases in our 30s, plateaus in the 50s to 60s then decline rapidly.

What is soft tissue damage?

Most common Sports injuries are soft tissue Injury

Soft tissue injury refers to damage to muscles, ligaments and tendons.

  • Muscles consists of thousand of fibres bonded together within a sheath of connective tissue when the muscle fibres are overstretched or torn it results in a strain. Back pain is the second highest cause of doctors visits.

  • Tendons are cords of tissues that connect muscle to bone to enable movement of bones and joints. When a tendon becomes inflamed, this is known as, tendonitis, it can be torn as in the rupture of the Achilles' tendon. Repetitive overhead movement of the arm can stress the rotator cuff muscles and tendons causing inflammation and tearing. Some tendons pass through a sheath lined with synovial membrane when inflamed; the condition is tenosynovitis.

  • Ligaments are made up of fibrous tissue that holds bones together at the joints and can be overstretched or torn by wrenching of a joint resulting in a sprain.
  • Sprains, dislocations and fractures account for almost 50% of all musculoskeletal injuries. Approximately 55 percent of sports injuries are to the knee, 7% to the elbow and 20% to the shoulder.

Exercise and Sport Injuries

Sports injuries fall into two categories:

Acute injuries happens suddenly and include:

  • Contusions
  • Fractures
  • Joint dislocation
  • Ligament tears
  • Joint Sprains

Overuse injuries occur gradually resulting from repeated action and include:

  • Plantar Fasciitis (Heel Spur)
  • Carpal Tunnel
  • Shin splints
  • Muscle strains
  • Tendonitis
  • Golfers Elbow



Given the sheer numbers of older people who are endeavouring to maintain a fit and active lifestyle, it would be unrealistic to expect that everyone will be injury free. However; the incidence of injuries can be reduced by adopting more cautious and sensible measures to exercising. Knowing our limitations and not over doing it. Always warm up before and after exercising, wear appropriate protection, etc.

The ageing body has certain limitations, and we must work within them. If we are careful and employ good practice, we can remain active for a long time. Keep up the good work, stay fit and healthy, take action to prevent and reduce sports and exercise injuries and enjoy a long and active life.

Walking for cardiovascular, Respiratory and musculoskeletal system

A Walk In The New Forest. Brisk  country walks are ideal for baby boomers
A Walk In The New Forest. Brisk country walks are ideal for baby boomers | Source
A walking holiday can be beneficial for mind and body. Image of New Forest Ponies
A walking holiday can be beneficial for mind and body. Image of New Forest Ponies | Source

Best Sports and Exercise

How do you stay fit and healthy

See results
 Baby Boomers Messing about on the water
Baby Boomers Messing about on the water


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    • tobusiness profile imageAUTHOR

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      6 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Hi Vinaya, thank you for stopping by, much appreciated. Exercise is good, but we must know our limits and take precautions to avoid injuries.

      Always good to see you, take care now.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      6 years ago from Nepal

      I'm not a sport person, but I know many people who have damaged their body parts during sports and exercise. Thanks for sharing your expertise.

    • tobusiness profile imageAUTHOR

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      6 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Hi Nell, lovely to see you! Swimming is a great way to exercise, I use to swim a lot, but not so much recently. I've been trying to get my husband to join me, but he doesn' seem too keen, might just have to go it alone. Sorry about the muscle pull :(. Yes, warming up is important.

      Thank you so much for taking a look at this, much appreciated and my best to you as always..

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      Hi, this is terrific hub, and so useful. I do try to swim when I can, and as you said warming up is most important. I try to exercise in the mornings, but always spend five minutes doing the warm up, the only times I have forgotten to do it I always end up pulling a muscle! lol!

    • tobusiness profile imageAUTHOR

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      6 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Hi Pamela, Rose is a pretty awesome writer and lady, and I just love roses so you can call me Rose anytime :).

      Thank you so much for stopping by and for reading this. I was very surprised by the statistics also, it is good that older people are attempting to stay fit and active, but I juries are cause for concern. Thank you for the vote and awesome, from you it means a lot. Take care and my best to you.

    • tobusiness profile imageAUTHOR

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      6 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Hi Devika, lovely to see you! Thanks for stopping by to check this out, I do appreciate it. We should all do what we can to remain active for as long as possible. We can all go down fighting. :)

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      This is an awesome hub Rose. Sports injuries are so commone and your advice is spot on. You had a lot of statistics that I was not aware of, and the photos helped explain the problems also. Voted up and awesome.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      6 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Great hub! Older people should continue to exercise regularly, and you made such important points about taking care of ones body during the exercises. I enjoy brisk walks.

    • tobusiness profile imageAUTHOR

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      6 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Hi Martin, it's good to do as much as you can manage, even a little is better than nothing at all. Thank you so much for taking a look, it's always a pleasure to see you. Take care and my very best to you.

    • tobusiness profile imageAUTHOR

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      6 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Hi Jackie, so nice to see you!..I did notice that the HP follows button has magically reappeared but didn't use it, thank you for finding this, much appreciated and my best to you.

    • tobusiness profile imageAUTHOR

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      6 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Hi Rose, many thanks for the lovely comment and vote, glad you found this useful. My best as always.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this. Tennis was my thing before I fell ill. Now stretching is all I can do as I have no balance.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      6 years ago from The Beautiful South

      So thorough and well done. Strange you have had this here so many hours and I just got notice of your publishing. Oh well, better late than never! Up and sharing.

    • rose-the planner profile image

      rose-the planner 

      6 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

      Jo this is such an insightful health article! You have provided some very valuable information that will definitely be useful to the baby boomer population. I think the cartoon at the bottom of your article sums everything up in a nutshell, lol. Thank you for sharing. (Voted Up)


    • tobusiness profile imageAUTHOR

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      6 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Hi Joelle, you are right on the money, mentally, we are still young but the body needs constant mentenance just to keep moving. I'm so glad you found this useful.

      I'm sorry to learn about the planter fasciitis, it can be a very painful condition, toe and calf stretches helps, but you also need the right shoes with good arch support or inserts. I use to be a fast walker also, but like you it's a case of slower and slower :). That's life I guess.

      Thank you for taking a look at this, and for the valuable insightful comment, always appreciated. Have a wonderful weekend and my best to you.

    • kidscrafts profile image


      6 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      What an excellent hub! In my mind, I am still 20 - 30 years old..... but my body doesn't agree with my mind in that area. I have plantar fasciitis since 4 to 5 months and it's not fun at all! Usually, I have to speed for walking : fast and very fast. Now it's slow and very slow.

      The lesson I have to learn is to take the time to warm up and cool down as you mentioned in your article!

      I can't wait to feel better! What is funny, I almost wrote you to write about the subject of plantar fasciitis... it seems that you heard some of my thoughts.... or my pain ;-)

      As you said, we have to be more careful as we aged :-( Hard reality that I am not 20 or 30 anymore!

      Voted up, useful and interesting!

      Have a great weekend!

    • tobusiness profile imageAUTHOR

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      6 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Frank, always a pleasure. Have a great weekend and my best to you.

    • tobusiness profile imageAUTHOR

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      6 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Hi Wetnose, I know what you mean, after twelve hours of night shift I'm totally wrecked!...I can see that you're getting your daily workouts with the gang.

      As for the olympians, I guess they are well prepared, the pain we get the day after exercising is called delayed onset muscle soreness, and is actually due to tiny tear injury to the muscle fibres. The pain is probably caused by chemicals and enzymes released by the action of the immune system. It's the body saying it need some rest :) Thank you so much for stopping by and for the terrific comment, always appreciated, my best to you all.

    • tobusiness profile imageAUTHOR

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      6 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Hi Doc, so nice to see you!...It looks like you're doing all the right things, I take the dog on long brisk walks, but I have to be careful of my wonky knee, too many long hours, nursing plays hell with the legs :). I find yoga and joint exercises helps. Thank you for stopping by, always appreciated, have a great weekend and my best to you.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      6 years ago from Shelton

      tobusiness your hubs are so well informed great information here...:)

    • wetnosedogs profile image


      6 years ago from Alabama

      I'm not the couch potato in the house, but my work gives me tiring exercise (I know that doesn't count, but for me, it does - I' always on the move, walking, bending, stretching). Glad to get home for wetnose stuff and reading a good book.

      Do you think those people in the Olympics gradually start feeling the aches and pains later in life?

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This is very good information, well-researched and thorough. You're right, we must take positive preventative action in order to reduce and prevent sports injuries. 675% is very high as far as knee replacement surgery. I practice all the sports in your list including strength training exercises except for skipping. up+ awesome and useful.

    • tobusiness profile imageAUTHOR

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      6 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Hi Bill, good for you!...Looks like you're doing pretty well. I remember the hilariously funny article about you adventure into Yoga land :). I also do yoga, but not nearly often enough. We did quite a lot of walking last week, I now need to step it up a bit, maybe speed walking will suit me better than running. Thank you as always for the great support, my best to you and the lovely Bev, take care and have a wonderful weekend.

    • tobusiness profile imageAUTHOR

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      6 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Jamie, why do I feel so good to see you? :)

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, I do appreciate it. I'm afraid my skiing days are way behind me, gave up when I fell down and couldn't get back up. Glad you found this useful, take care and my best to you and the family.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great info, Jo, and since I just started running again a couple months ago a very timely message for me. Actually I do yoga, run and walk. so I'm slowly easing back into this exercise thing after taking ten years off....and yes, I am slowly easing into it. I feel great and have avoided muscle strain, so I feel good about the pace I have set.

      Wonderful article for any Baby Boomer considering returning to the exercise regime. Well done, Jo! You deserve a great weekend after this fine article.

      blessings always


    • tobusiness profile imageAUTHOR

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      6 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Hi Faith, I hope your hubby and the little one are doing well after their ordeal..I know you must be pretty busy right now, so thank you so very much for taking the time to look at this.

      I really appreciate the vote, share and the wonderful comment. Hope you get back on that keep fit journey soon but take care and have a great weekend.

      Hugs and love right back at you my friend :).

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 

      6 years ago from Reno NV

      This was a very informative hub. I love to ski and go with Sam every winter and I have to admit I am getting older so this hub was very important to me. Thank you Jo for sharing it. Jamie

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      6 years ago from southern USA

      Wow, Jo,

      Another comprehensive hub here and, yes, us baby boomers need to take heed and really be oh so careful as to those injuries while trying to stay fit and healthy! And it sure does not take much to injure oneself.

      I did not take the poll, as I my exercise at the moment (which I need to improve in this area) is just keeping up with my sweet grandchildren. lol

      So thank you for this insightful piece and good reminder as to staying fit and preventing future injuries.

      Your photos are so beautiful!

      Voted up +++ and sharing

      Enjoy your weekend.

      Hugs and love your way, Faith Reaper


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