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Why playing tennis 6 times a week at 40 (well almost) is no fluke…

Posted By Jamie Page  
Back 5 years ago I was at the point of having to give up playing tennis. I was only playing once or twice a week but in the space of 2 years I’d torn my calf 4 or 5 times, hamstrings not far off the same and I always felt stiff and sore for the first 20 minutes of playing. I was in my mid thirties and just figured this was a fairly typical retirement age for lots of amateur sportsmen. I considered just playing doubles to make things a little easier on my body. My biggest issue here was I really don’t enjoy playing doubles. As the great Serena Williams once said I only come to the net to shake hands at the end.


Fast forward to last week and I played 6 times and barely noticed any ill effects on my body. I would have played every day if it wasn’t for a rainy one! I reflected how close I was to packing it all in and realised my story may help others recover lost careers in amateur social sport. How I got here was not by chance either. It was through re-educating myself and being open to trying something new.


To keep things simple I’m going to post a list of what I believe have been the most important health changes I have made over this time. I understand we all have individually differences and what works for one may not work for another but I hope if nothing else if gives you some ideas to consider and may remind you of things you’ve done before but have fallen away from. My other tip is to recognise it’s not always popular making such significant health changes. Most people will tell you to ‘live a little’ or ‘everything in moderation.’ The best results are when you have a clear vision of what you are doing and why. It won’t always be easy and your biggest supporter through this will likely be yourself.


How I approach my health:
  • I eat only whole unprocessed foods. My diet is based around animal foods (ie meat, fish eggs), vegetables, fruit and high quality dairy. I avoid seed oils, grains and processed sugar/high fructose corn syrup. I rarely eat out as I enjoy cooking. See my gut health article for more info on this.
  • I prioritise sleep and have a consistent nighttime and morning routine
  • I prioritise time outdoors
  • I exercise regularly and sensibly. Some days I just walk outdoors, others I go to the gym and others I play tennis. I pick exercise I enjoy.
  • I do regular blood work to see if there’s any areas of my health that aren’t quite performing.
  • I do regular breathwork of about ten minute sessions - this is one of my favourites: 
  • I read and listen to podcasts and continue to educate myself or practice healthy escapism when needed
  • I try to reduce my screentime and time on social media
  • I surround myself with good people and I value friends and family highly
  • I take charge of my life and the decisions I’m making. I don’t blame others.


Now some of those are what some may suggest are a bit ‘woo woo’ but I worry much less about appearing so these days. The patients I see even attempting half of the above have by far the best results overall. Maybe pick one or two to start and build from there.


When it comes to the headline of this article and my reduced injury, I think that was mostly from my diet changes. My body just becomes stiff and sore with grains and processed foods and I end up injured. Had I not figured that out I’d be heading quickly to an arthritic body. The stiffness was just my body trying to teach me I wasn’t doing something right. I’ve never gone back to those foods either because I enjoy my physical health much more.


For someone else though they may find stress and poor sleep contributes to ongoing pain or injury more. I definitely reduce my training level if I’ve not slept well or have been dealing with stress. We just need to learn a bit more about what your individual drivers are.


As I’ve been talking about diet a fair amount in this article I’m attaching a wonderful chat with Dr Casey Means. She gives a great overall perspective on where our food supply and the traditional medical system may be failing us. We will try and send out a podcast a month on topics we feel may interest you on your health journey.