A few weeks ago, I was playing a tennis match at Phoenix Country Club. My leg cramped but, being the stubborn person I am, I chose to play through it and stretch between sets.
Eventually, I felt something like a rubber band snap in my calf. I was done. I had to forfeit the match.
I thought it would start to feel better on its own, but after two days of not being able to walk I finally went to the doctor.
The diagnosis? A torn calf muscle. The treatment? Rest for a month.
This is difficult news to hear when you’re active and always on the go. As we age, we’re more susceptible to injury and it’s more difficult to bounce back from it. And some of us are a bit more stubborn about taking the time off our bodies need so they can heal.
My doctor told me that if I felt better after a month, I could slowly start adding back in my tennis routine. So what did I do? My first day back, I attended a 2-hour tennis clinic. While at the clinic, someone asked if I could play in a match the next day. I said yes.
After two days of tennis (bouncing, running), I could feel my calf tighten up again. And I felt like an old lady.
My problem? First, not resting enough after an injury. But I also neglected to stretch, something that I’ve been guilty of for years.
I know, deep down, that recovery isn’t going to happen if I don’t take care of my body and really listen to it. No matter what the injury is, or how minor it seems.
When you’re feeling tight or like something’s not quite right, make sure you see your doctor. And to avoid feeling like that in the first place, massage and stretch your muscles both before and after your workout. Use a foam roller, ice and heat if you feel any tightness.
The worst part of my injury is that because I didn’t rest fully the first time around, I’m out of the game for a little longer. I’ve had to ask friends and family members for help with driving the kids because I just couldn’t.
All of this is on the heels of my 50th birthday. (Happy birthday to me!) It makes me feel old but the reality is that I’m not 20 or 30 or even 40 anymore. I need to slow down a bit and reassess what I can do and stick to it.
You don’t have to stop working out just because you reach a milestone age, but you do have to take age and injury into account. But the more active you are, the more likely you are to stay healthier–longer. So long as you’re taking care of yourself.