To Avoid Injuries Seniors Should Start An Exercise Program By Focusing On Body Awareness Including Symmetry, Balance And Flexibility


Hi folks,

Trails in North Carolina - Fall is on the way.

I could feel that fall is on the way during a trail walk-run this morning. What better place to be, and what a benefit of safe exercise for better health.

I talk to plenty of people about exercise, and every few days someone will ask my advice on an injury or exercise program. I always lead the discussion towards the study of body-awareness, which inevitably results in a silence, complete lack of interest, and rapid changing of the subject. I find this behavior to be extremely bizarre, as these people approached me for advice in the first place. I think they find it surprising that I just keep on going with my Ironman training, even with occasional setbacks and an advancing age – I’m 70 next year, and no-one seems to think that it is normal to maintain my level of fitness at such an advanced age. I suspect that they would find it much more acceptable to see me in a rocking chair with a shawl around my shoulders – but as they say in England, “Buggar that!” I don’t attribute my ability to keep up my training to genetics or magic, but to the study of body-awareness.

It is clear, to me at least, that the best place to start an exercise or training program is with body awareness – what better way to avoid injuries. Such heightened awareness allows you to recognize mild strains that you proceed to fix before an injury develops.

The FitOldDog Safe Exercise Wheel runs clockwise, starting at the top, with reward or celebration as a critical final component of each cycle.

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Here are the key areas of focus that I recommend for a body-awareness program, for which Feldenkrais is clearly one of the best tools, but there are many others:

  1. Know your history by creating an injury map, as injuries leave problems in their wake in the form of guarding issues.
  2. Learn to scan your body for the earliest signs of strain, and fix such strains before they become injuries – a good sports masseuse can help with this.
  3. Work on flexibility because tight muscles are easily injured and they are probably weak, so focused exercises can help with this, and a good physical therapist might be able to send you in the right direction.
  4. Correct disabling asymmetry induced by a lifetime of bad postural habits.
  5. Work on balance – this can help you to avoid the disaster of a fall, and very simple exercises will dramatically improve your sense of balance.
  6. Learn to stand before you learn to walk before you learn to run – everything in its time and place, and you won’t go far wrong. This means that good posture is a key to long-term success in exercise.
  7. Make all changes slowly and progressively with due attention to what is going on in your body as it adapts to your new healthy lifestyle.

As your exercise picks up remember to stop and fix problems before you are injured through increased awareness of what you are doing and how your body is responding. Body awareness is really critical for a program of safe exercise for better health, especially in older people who take a while to recover from injuries, and should avoid a fall at all cost.

After saying all of that, I find that most people just want to get out there and run and then complain about their injuries after they decide to stop running because it hurts too much. This is completely unnecessary, as I learned after many self-induced injuries.

Old dogs can learn new tricks, the first of which should be patience.

-k @FitOldDog



  1. It’s a long time till Autumn (Fall) here in Spain. It’s going to be 97 degrees today. Last year it didn’t start cooling down until the end of September.

  2. Yep, but you spot that cooling long before then on shady trails. -k

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.