As we get older, our tissue becomes less elastic, which means it’s less resilient to absorbing forces, stiffer, and much more likely to tear. The same applies to our bones, which is why osteoporosis is such a big problem for the elderly.
Stiff muscles reduce blood flow both in and out of joints, which means that not only to the muscles get less oxygen (so they can’t function for very long without fatigue), but they also get less nutrients that hydrate the joint itself.
Without these nutrients, cartilage isn’t plump and cushioned, it gets thin, dry, and eventually worn away by the pressure from the bones surrounding it.
This leads to osteoarthritis.
But joint dryness, cartilage issues and restricted blood flow aren’t just problems for the elderly.
As babies, we have amazing freedom of movement in our joints, but not enough strength in our muscles and bones. That’s why newborns can’t hold their own heads up.
From birth to the age of around 20, it’s an evolutionary requirement to get stronger, that’s why teenagers develop strength so quickly in the weights room.
But after this age, our freedom of movement starts to reduce, and our bodies start to stiffen.
Granted, it can be a very slow process but, since it’s one of the biggest factors in sporting injury, it’s kind of a big deal.
Addicted to weights?
Because the idea of strength is drummed into us at an early age (even my Mum used to talk about eating greens to make me stronger when I was little), we don’t really notice when the point comes that it’s not so important anymore.
The truth is, after the age of 20, mobility (the ability to move a joint freely, with no restriction) and strength should share equal importance in the training plan, and by the age of 40, mobility should take priority.
Injury Banishment Fundamentals
If there’s three things you should know about banishing injuries for good, they’re these:
- Muscle stiffness creates all non-collision injuries
- Stiffness around the hips is the cause of (or certainly a huge contributing factor in) most of them
- After the age of 40, mobility should take priority over strength and endurance
To see what injuries your current muscle stiffness may be causing you (or is likely to cause you in the future), try my FREE 5 minute, Injury Predictor Assessment