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By Jason R. Saleh, MD

 

Most times, our articles are geared towards the adolescent athlete.  This one is geared towards the parents of the adolescent athlete. 

With repeated use, our body can get a little rusty.  In studying orthopaedic surgery, I have noticed a few parts of the human body that tend to wear out more quickly than the rest.  Here are the exercises that I think everyone should do several times a week to maximize the chance for functional, pain-free (and surgery-free) aging.

1) Core strength.  This means your abdominals, your lower back and your pelvic muscles.  They’re involved in almost every movement we do, so keep them strong.  Examples of exercises for these muscles are squats, dead lifts, sit ups, back extensions and kegels. 

2) Quadriceps strength. Quad strength is key in preventing knee cap pain, a common problem in active adults. Best exercises include leg press, mini-squats and theraband knee extensions with your foot on the floor.

3) Hamstring flexibility.  This is also important in preventing knee cap pain but also in preventing injuries and maintaining good form in exercise. Reach for your toes, keeping a flat back and hold for 30 seconds.  The yoga pose of downward- facing-dog is also good for increasing hamstring flexibility.

4) Scapular retractors.  These are the muscles that pull your shoulder blades back. They not only help maintain good posture, but they are involved in a host of shoulder problems that often arise with age. 

5) Practice good posture.  Shoulders back, head up straight.  There are actually reasons why you should do this (even if the people who told you to do it didn’t know why).  Good posture is important in preventing injuries to the low back, shoulder and neck.

6) Hip strength.  Strengthening the hip flexors, abductors and lateral rotators helps to maintain good leg alignment and minimize hip pain. Again, overall great exercises for the lower extremity and core include squats, dead lifts, & seated hip flexion against resistance.