As part of our work on making the most of living longer, EML included Optimising Health as one of six key aspects covered by our Guides – designed to pass on to you the tips, techniques and tools used by those who are successfully making the most of later life.

Their feedback raised some surprising issues – here is one from Colin:

Participation sport has undergone a revolution since England last won the World Cup.  50 years ago people followed their local football or cricket team, and exercise was a walk in the country. Today a plethora of active & extreme sports are undertaken at all ages – these can place unheard of loads on joints and their ligaments, tendons and cartilage, in aid of producing the adrenaline rush high.

My son is no exception. In his mid 20’s he has been referred to a specialist hospital unit dealing with knee injuries, following an unfortunate accident while skateboarding. It is the sort of injury to the cartilage that is quite common in a range of ‘modern’ sports, including downhill cycling, skiing etc. The treatment is likely to be long and painful.

The orthopaedic specialist treating him took time to say that his own knees were probably going to suffer in older age thanks to his attempts at Marathon running, he assessed his knees age 40 as being in worse shape than his father’s at 80, simply due to the more extreme loading from modern sports – and he is the expert!

The message from this is that, while these exhilarating sports can be addictive, the dangers they pose are real and the consequences can be life changing. Have a go by all means (whatever your age!) but take good care of your joints – they are an important part of good health & mobility throughout life.  Modern sports, especially ones involving repetitive high or impact loading on the lower joints such as ankles, knees & hips, can be great fun, and by wearing the right protective gear to reduce the loads or likelihood of injury from accidents, you can continue to enjoy them for decades to come.