Let’s Move Quad Cities: Managing pain and injury to stay active as you age

By day, she teaches second grade, but when the hallways at Eisenhower Elementary in Davenport are empty, Lori French goes from a teacher of more than 30 years to a runner of more than 30 marathons.

"I started off for the exercise and losing weight and just getting in shape, and now it's my stress release," the 53-year-old said. "It is a complete stress release."

Right now, Lori is training for the Quad Cities Marathon. However, crossing the finish line hasn't always been easy. Arthritis in her right knee nearly forced her to stop.

"I had a cortisone shot and that helped, but then I started feeling pain coming back," Lori explained.

She says ORA Orthopedics helped get her back on her feet.

"My x-rays didn't show intense arthritis, but there was enough of it so the cortisone was just placed differently and it's been wonderful. I've been running completely pain-free, not waking up in middle of the night, and when I wake up in the morning I can walk right away."

Lori is part of a national trend. According to Running USA, more women than ever before (43% of finishers in 2013) are participating in marathons.  More women over the age of 40 (47% of finishers in 2013) are also participating.

"It's a great activity for health," said Primary Care Sports Medicine Physician, Dr. Jessica Ellis. "It's a great stress reliever and it's a social event for women."

Dr. Ellis is the only female physician at ORA Orthopedics. She spends her time after work with student athletes at Pleasant Valley High School.

Dr. Ellis says running is one of the best ways to get and stay fit at any age.

"I think it's a great thing to start later in life. You don't have to have been a runner. I was a thrower in college, I didn't run, I threw things; but in my thirties I started to run because it's a great thing for your health in general."

However, Dr. Ellis says it's important to know how to balance exercise with injury.

"When you get injured, you don't have to stop, you just have to get creative, find something else to do while you're healing and then get back moving."

"[Dr. Ellis] will listen to what I'm doing, what the pain is, and help me figure out ways to treat it and not stop what I want to do," added Lori.

Whether that's one mile or 26.2 miles, Lori is proving that age is just another number, too and her message is the same to anyone waiting at the starting line:

"Just keep moving. Keep moving. If you can't run, walk. If you can't walk, cycle. Find something you like and do it."

The Quad Cities Marathon is Sunday, September 28th, 2014 and there's still time to register. To do so, click here.

*Let's Move QC is a new segment on WQAD. It's all about being the best version of you by introducing viewers to real people in the Quad Cities who are doing just that, with a little extra help from the surgeons at ORA Orthopedics. The stories air the last Monday of every month during News 8 at 5 p.m.