How Boomer Women Can Make Use of Biomechanics to Exercise Without Pain
As a biomechanist and nutritionist, I’ve been professionally involved in one to one exercise/fitness, rehabilitation, injury, and nutrition for the past 47 years.
A Matter of Constant Evolution
Over the years, a lot of things have changed in fitness/exercise and injury matters, especially when it comes to recommendations as to what is good or not so good, and what is downright bad news.
In nutrition, for example, I’ve simply lost count of the number of times researchers have withheld making statements only to follow with pronouncements that what was considered bad in the past is now ok, or what was definitely really good is suddenly a big no-no!
We are constantly presented with changing nutritional information, so we end up going round and round in our efforts to look after ourselves, hoping, of course, that this last piece of education is going to be finally reliable.
However, it’s inevitable that we always are, and always will be, limited by the depth and level of our present knowledge; before we, once more, move on yet again.
What Is Biomechanics and Why Should You Care?
Human movement, alias Biomechanics, is the one science that, comparatively, has not changed a great deal over the last 20 years.
If you haven’t heard the term before, Biomechanics is the science of how you move, turn, walk, bend, stretch, or so much as wiggle a finger in any physical activity of any description, at any level of effort.
In addition to Biomechanics, I specialize in ladies’ exercise, injury, and nutrition, which dominantly involves working with the uniquely personal Biomechanics of mature ladies in their 60s, 70s, 80s, and even 90s.
I know from long experience that a personally correct and safely approached exercise structure, can, to a remarkable degree, uphold the adage “ageing is chronological not physiological” and dramatically hold back the years.
In matters of lung power, for example, sensibly vigorous exercise can prevent obesity, heart disease, hypertension, and osteoporosis.
Worthy of note is that older ladies, who spend less than four hours a day on their feet, virtually double their risk of hip fractures, compared to those who get out and about more.
U.S. studies with ladies in their 70s revealed that regular exercising gave them back 23% of their lung capacity, which equated to what their capacity was in their 50s!
Other studies in Sweden revealed that a group of 75-year-old women increased their strength by 19–22% after only a 12-week weight training program.
Flexibility and Biomechanics
Flexibility is crucially important when it comes to healthy lifestyle. In biomechanical reality, both men and women begin to lose ground in their flexibility at around 23 years of age, but try telling that to a 23-year-old in a gym, and watch the ‘ol ‘Doubting Thomas’ expression set in!
If you perform Yoga or Pilates, that’s a good course of action. Adding an extra strength-promoting measure into your lifestyle also can boost your flexibility, as no one exercise form or discipline delivers the full package.
For the very best outcome, if you are able to do so, get your biomechanics analysed and engage in one-to-one Pilates or Yoga tuition, so that the instructor’s attention is focused exclusively on you.
Every person moves uniquely, with differing physical idiosyncrasies which make you the woman you are. You’re unique, just like the next person and those personal movement variations really do matter!
Women’s Movements Are Different Than Men’s
It’s important to note that females are very different from their male counterparts in many exercise/activity aspects of physiology.
For instance, men’s pelvic girdles tilt forward very little, whereas female pelvic girdles can tilt forward anywhere from 7-13 degrees, or even more in some ladies. This is referred to as “anterior pelvic tilt.”
Both genders have weaker rear thighs than front thighs. Although this related weakness reduces by the time the late teens arrive, in women, the degree of weakness that remains for life is proportionately greater.
As a lady, this factor is well worth keeping in mind during exercise, as it may make the difference between injury and physical wellbeing.
These and many other factors, along with certain genetic guidelines of movement, must be considered when mature women practice exercise routines.
Correct Biomechanics Can Ease Exercise Pain
A very informative example would be Emily, 69, who exercises diligently and regularly with her personal trainer. She came to me seeking help with a pain in her knees. The problem was simple and was due to her natural inward movement of the knees when she exercised going up and down in her squats.
The remedy was not pills or ointments. Emily simply had to ensure that her bottom was pushed out behind her more as she went up and down – thus keeping her shins vertical and thereby reducing knee pressure – while simultaneously ensuring that her knees were always in line with her big toes.
Another illustration of the importance of biomechanics is Vanessa, who is 71. She goes to Pilates classes and enjoys them, but lower back pain would often diminish the experience.
The problem with Vanessa was the exceptional forward tilt of her pelvis which escalated the pressure to her lower back. After applying focused attention to a specific set of her lower back ligatures, the problem was solved.
These are just two examples that show how keeping a sharp eye on your inherited biomechanical differences as women can make a very positive change to your exercise choices, while significantly enhancing the safety of what you do.
What issues have you experienced when exercising? How did you address those issues? Did you see a biomechanist to help ease any pain you were feeling, or did you seek medical treatment instead? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.