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Stay Fit and Injury-Free After 70

How to avoid strains and pain

spinner image Stay Fit Injury Free Stretch Lunges Run
Help to reduce knee strain by doing lunges.
Knut Schulz/Corbis

Now that you're back in action, your 70-plus-year-old body might need a little more TLC than it used to. The biggest challenge?

"We get the 'terrible toos' — we do too much, too soon, too often," says Vonda J. Wright, an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh and the author of Fitness After 40. Here, Wright highlights the four injuries most likely to knock us out of the game — and the best exercises to prevent them.

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Injury: Lower-back strain

While slipped disks and degenerative disease are sometimes to blame — and these require medical treatment — most lower-back pain can be prevented by strengthening the core muscles.

spinner image Stay Fit Injury Free Stretches Side Planks

Beat it with: Side planks

Lie on one side, stacking your feet. Prop yourself on one arm, lifting your hip and keeping your back straight. Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes on each side.

spinner image Stay Fit Injury Free Stretches Lunges

Injury: Knee strain

The key to reducing knee pain is to strengthen the quadriceps — the big muscles that run down the fronts of the thighs.

Beat it with: Lunges

Keeping your upper body straight, step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Stand up. Do 10 forward lunges with each leg.

spinner image Stay Fit Injury Free Stretches Monster Walk
Monster walking.

Injury: IT band syndrome

The iliotibial band — the long ligament connecting the pelvic bone to the tibia — often gets inflamed as you exercise. You'll feel pain in your knee, thigh or hip.

Beat it with: Monster walking

Tie a resistance band around your ankles. Bend your knees slightly, keeping your back straight. Walk sideways 20-30 steps. Then walk sideways in the other direction.

Injury: Rotator cuff injury

Almost a quarter of those over 50 have at least a minor tear in this shoulder muscle, even if they lack symptoms, one study finds.

spinner image Stay Fit Injury Free Stretches Shoulder Rotations
Internal and external shoulder rotations.

Beat it with: Internal and external shoulder rotations

Tie one end of a resistance band to a door handle. With your elbow close to your side, pull the band across your body, rotating your forearm inward 20 times. Repeat with the other arm. Then rotate your forearm out, 20 reps with each arm.

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