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10 Ways to Avoid Sports Injuries Over 50

10 Ways to Avoid Sports Injuries Over 50

Sports injuries can plague older athletes, but they can be avoided if you pursue smart strategies that will decrease your risk of a sports injury quite substantially.

Table of Contents

Why You Should Focus on Preventing Injury  

Older man playing basketball

The truth is unpleasant but undeniable: athletes over 50 do face a greater risk of injury than their younger counterparts. Injury prevention is why sports medicine is a huge concern for everyone who plays, but it is an especially urgent topic for the over-50 athlete who has no desire to slow down or give up their favorite related hobbies anytime soon.

While you may accept the consequences of aging in theory, if you’re like most active men you probably aren’t convinced the rules really apply to you. Your mind may be telling you that you’re as agile and nimble as ever and that you haven’t lost a step, regardless of the alleged ravages of Father Time.

But while your body might cooperate and help you keep up this illusion for a while, if you refuse to pace yourself it will ultimately rebel against the demands you’re placing on it and begin to break down. You’ll suddenly experience new aches, pains and stiffness in the joints that you never noticed before, in your knees, feet, neck, hips, shoulders or back. You may suddenly be prone to stumbling and falling, suffering insults to your dignity trying to execute moves you could perform smoothly and un-problematically in the past.

What those sore knees, stiff hips, aching heels and cranky back are trying to tell you is that its time to make some adjustments in your workouts or recreational routines. Its time to start taking safety precautions seriously, to think about adding some targeted exercises to your daily workout regimen, while also taking other steps to protect you from the emerging dangers your body is facing.

The good news is that you don’t have to quit working out, practicing sports or playing outside with your kids just because your 50th birthday has come and gone. In fact you shouldn’t even think about doing that, since stopping completely could provoke or accelerate a disheartening age-related decline.

The smart approach to avoid injury is to stay as active as possible, working out regularly, practicing your favorite sports (and occasionally trying new ones), and playing outside with your kids if you’re a father or with your grandkids if you have them. You just want to make sure you can do everything safely, and that is what the following 11 tips for avoiding sports injuries after the age of 50 can help you do.


10 Ways to Avoid Sports Injuries Over 50

#1 Diversify your choice of sports and exercises

Older athletes are more likely to experience a sports injury or other problems if they engage in too much repetitive motion. This means playing the same sports and making the same movements over and over again, which can put stress on aging body parts and strains joint injuries, leading to heavy wear and tear or sudden breakdowns.

This is why athletes in the 50-plus category should vary their exercise and sport routines, to include a multitude of activities that work different muscle groups and stretch various parts of the body. A more diverse menu of sports and workout plans will help you stay physically resilient and fully functional regardless of your age, while ensuring that no area of your body will remain chronically underdeveloped and underutilized, and therefore more vulnerable to injury.   


#2 Stretch often, even when you’re not playing a sport

 Man stretching

You should perform numerous stretching to prevent injuries, and not just when you’re getting ready to start playing or working out. To gain the maximum benefits from stretching it is necessary to do it before and after you exercise or play, during breaks in the action, and in the days leading up to your games or exercise sessions.

Regular stretching practices that incorporates every part of the lower and upper body should become a part of your daily routine after you pass the age of 50. Tendons and ligaments lose elasticity over time, which can lead to a decline in full range of motion and joint function. While stretching can’t eliminate this development entirely, it can still help you preserve the flexibility, agility and mobility you need to practice sports and other activities safely.


#3 Concentrate on maintaining fantastic form

All athletes should pay attention to good form when exercising or practicing a sport, but when you’re physically active after the age of 50 this is even more crucial. Poor form, including in cardiovascular exercise, will inevitably put a strain on some parts of your body. When you reach a certain age your chances of injury will be elevated as a result of such imbalances in posture, positioning, muscle usage or movement sequences.

Thankfully this is a hazard that can be avoided, if you take the time to learn proper technique and form and concentrate on maintaining it whenever you’re exercising or practicing your sport of choice.


#4 Never skip the warm-up

Many athletes treat the warm-up stage as optional, choosing to do a few stretching exercises to prevent injuries instead of performing a full-fledged warm-up. This is a mistake at any age, but it is especially unwise if you’re over the age of 50.

Warming up generally involves mimicking the activities you’ll have to practice once you start playing, but with less intensity and speed. This will prepare your body for more potent action by boosting blood flow, improving tissue elasticity and muscle tension, activating the muscles and stimulating the nervous system. These are all aspects of efficient athletic performance that an older athlete can’t take for granted, which is why warming up for 10 or 15 minutes before you start is an intelligent strategy.


#5 Try exercises to prevent injury and improve balance

When you think about exercises to prevent injuries in sports, exercises designed to improve your balance probably don’t come to your mind. But in fact people tend to lose their sense of balance as they get older, which in older athletes can lead to more falls and more awkward landings that can cause serious injuries to the extremities, including broken bones.

There are many different exercises you can do to improve your balance. Some are performed while standing still, while others require movement. Holistic health practices like yoga, Tai Chi and martial arts can also improve your balance, in addition to helping you preserve flexibility and mobility. The possibilities are many, and if you include a healthy mix of movements and activities that promote better balance in your fitness routines, you will enjoy a significantly reduced risk of hurting yourself in the long run.


#6 Build strength in your core

A strong core (lower back, pelvis, buttocks, hips and abs) is essential to good posture and stability, which are important if you do cardiovascular exercise, strength training, or want to perform athletic movements safely and effectively.  Conversely, if your core muscles are underdeveloped it can lead to lower back pain, a loss of flexibility and endurance, and lingering or debilitating injuries of various types.

Core strengthening exercises to prevent injuries can make a huge difference for older athletes, since they promote whole-body fitness at a time when small but disabling aches, pains, sprains and swelling can pop up just about anywhere. Pilates core exercises are especially well-suited for older people, since they are customized to produce sustainable results while minimizing the risk of exercise-related injury.


#7 Invest in good quality shoes

Preventing injuries in sports is all about paying attention to the details, including those that relate to protective equipment or apparel. With this in mind, you should know that the quality of your footwear can absolutely increase your injury risk, if you’re content to purchase cheap, generic shoes that don’t offer flexibility of movement or the proper arch or heel support.

The smartest strategy when picking out a pair of shoes is to select a product that has been specifically designed and manufactured for the sport you plan to play. Running shoes for running, tennis shoes for playing tennis, and basketball shoes for playing basketball will offer you the most reliable performance and the appropriate level of support, since they were designed to do just that.


#8 Compete with yourself instead of with others

It’s when trying to outdo others and prove they “still have it” that many aging athletes do unnecessary damage to their bodies. If you’re straining to keep up with younger friends, family members or training partners, your chances of twisting, spraining, pulling or even breaking something will rise substantially. 

When you pass the age of 50, there is no reason to use the skills and abilities of much younger competitors as your standard for judging your own athletic prowess. At this point in your life you’ll be exercising and playing sports for fitness, fun and overall good health, and you should celebrate and be proud of any achievement or improvement you enjoy, no matter how small.  


#9 Clean up your diet, starting today

When you’re younger you can get away with living on processed or fast food. But as you age your body needs healthy and nourishing foods more desperately than ever. Poor diet in older people is associated with chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, gastrointestinal disorders, cancer and osteoporosis, plus other disorders that compromise health and increase the likelihood of injury when you’re physically active.

Most of these conditions are preventable or even reversible, if you consume a diet that is balanced and diverse and rich in nutrients and antioxidants, while remaining low in refined sugar, trans fats and artificial flavorings and additives. A healthy and nutritious diet will help you maintain impressive flexibility and good joint health, avoid obesity, and maintain high energy levels so you can remain vital and active for as long as you would like.

High-quality supplements that provide a rich mixture of essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients should also be incorporated into your new and improved diet. M Drive offers a complete line of sports supplements that are ideal for athletes of any age, but they can be particularly beneficial for older athletes who may have built up deficiencies in certain nutrients over time.


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#10 Keep moving, even you’re not exercising or playing a sport

Too often older athletes confine their physical activity to the field, gym, trail or the park. They play or train vigorously a few hours a week, but the rest of the time they take things just a bit too easy. Instead of walking, biking or hiking they drive their cars everywhere they go, passing up numerous chances for stimulating exercise. They may spend a lot of time on the couch watching TV or in front of their computer, adopting a sedentary lifestyle despite their continued interest in fitness and sports.

Unsurprisingly, this pattern can leave the so-called “weekend athlete” highly vulnerable to sports-related injuries. Slothfulness as you enter your middle years will set you up for a fall in any case, and if you try to combine it with the occasional binge of intense sporting activity you’ll be virtually guaranteeing an injury-filled experience.

To prevent such an outcome, you should constantly look for more opportunities to get out of the house and get moving. Even if the additional exercise is not particularly strenuous, it will still help you stay loose, flexible, fit and healthy.


Key Takeaways

  • Diversify Activities and Prioritize Form: Engage in varied sports and exercises to avoid repetitive strain, maintaining proper form to reduce the risk of injury.

  • Regular Stretching and Warm-ups: Incorporate daily stretching and thorough warm-up routines to preserve flexibility and prepare the body for activities, especially crucial for older athletes.

  • Maintain Balance, Core Strength, and Healthy Habits: Focus on exercises targeting balance and core strength, invest in quality footwear, set personal goals, maintain a healthy diet, and stay active daily to prevent injuries and support overall well-being.


For athletes over 50, or even just guys who want to keep up with their kids, prioritizing sports injury prevention is essential for sustaining a fulfilling and active lifestyle. Embracing these strategies fosters longevity in physical activity and supports overall well-being, ensuring continued enjoyment of sports and fitness pursuits well into the future.

1 comment on 10 Ways to Avoid Sports Injuries Over 50
  • Scott Bourne
    Scott BourneMay 15, 2024

    how do you incorporate eating fasting and missing here is workouts! if I bicycle for the hours hard to do in fasted state and then after need to replenish.

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