There comes a time in all our lives when the metabolism starts to slow, the weight creeps on and the prospect of a return to the sporty, twentysomething we once were seems a distant dream. But it doesn’t have to be game over after 40... The Moment talks to Adrian Woolley, director of the Fane Clinic, about getting back to match fitness again without the risk of injury
The urge to get back into some form of exercise in middle age is a very common phenomenon – and not just because of the fear of dreaded middle-age spread. ‘To be honest,’ says Adrian, ‘it’s often more of a lifestyle issue than anything. We see people who have perhaps been quite sporty in their 20s, then had a family and so had less time to do sport. Then, as the family has grown up and they get their free time back they return to those activities they did when they were younger.’ The main problem – and one that Adrian sees on a regular basis – is that many people have a tendency to overdo it.
‘As we get older, muscles lose their strength and are liable to fatigue more quickly, which leaves them more open to injury. But a lot of people make the mistake of going back to a sport or activity at the same level as in their 20s, without doing the strength work. Those muscles need building up again.’
As an expert on sports-related injuries and their treatments who regularly works with sportspeople, Adrian knows how to tackle or head off such problems, even if all you want to do is play a bit of Sunday football or go for a run a couple of times a week. Recent client Mark is a typical example.
‘I was really into health and fitness when I was younger,’ he says. ‘I ran four times a week and was in the gym every day.’ As is so often the case, work gradually took over and opportunities seemed to disappear. Now, aged 43, he has started to get back into that more active lifestyle again.
‘For me it’s partly about improving the strength of my heart, because there is heart disease in my family. But also, I just really enjoy running.’ Long hours behind a desk had taken their toll, however. ‘Every third run my calves were getting tighter and tighter, to the extent that I was starting to pull the muscles and my Achilles tendons were hurting.’ Adrian sorted Mark’s issues with sports massage, advice on the right footwear for running and suggestions for exercises to build up the muscle strength.
‘He also advised me to get back into the running gradually, rather than going straight to 3 x 5k every week…’ The consultation even picked up issues that Mark had never known about – including slight curvature at the base of his spine. ‘What we try to do here is look at the cause rather than just treat the symptom,’ says Adrian. ‘I do a lot of biomechanics because I got frustrated with that approach, treating an injury that just comes back again.’
In many cases, the root cause is not where the pain or injuries are actually experienced. ‘For example, someone might come to me with a knee problem they’ve had for a while, in spite of treatment. Looking at them, I may notice that one leg is slightly longer than the other, which in turn means that in the gait cycle it turns out slightly, and it’s this that is causing the knee problem. But by addressing the leg length discrepancy through orthotics as well as the foot and ankle biomechanics it can be cured.’
Adrian offers a free assessment and a money-back guarantee. ‘If somebody comes here they have nothing to lose, really. We often see people who have had discomfort for years, and we’re the last people they’re seeing when perhaps we should have been the first!’ It certainly seems to be working for Mark. ‘I now know that with the right training there’s no reason why I can’t be active again and enjoy my running – and while I know I’m not 23 any more, I’m optimistic about my future health. I might actually be a better runner in my 50s than I was in my 30s!’
The Fane Clinic
01733 571555 thefaneclinic.co.uk