Preparation helps to avoid injury for weekend warriors

Sports injuries among baby boomers are on the rise.

Soccer player laying on field away from ball

Those who work a regular workweek often have periods of greatly increased activity on the weekends after sitting at a desk all week. These people are affectionately referred to as “weekend warriors.”

That irregular pattern of weekend activity might come in the form of sports, the gym, or home improvement projects that need to be finished in two days. Whatever the case may be, these activities often also result in injuries, especially for aging and exercise-happy baby boomers.

According to the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), sports-related injuries among today’s baby boomers increased about 33 percent from 1991 to 1998. The increase in injuries is related to increased participation in sports among this age group, but some of these injuries can be prevented by taking precautions and by adopting a less erratic workout regimen.

It’s great to fit exercise into your schedule, but pushing yourself too hard or too quickly can cause injuries.

Common sports injuries

  • Low back pain
    One of the more common causes of low back pain is muscle soreness from over-activity. Muscles and ligament fibers can be overstretched or injured. This is often brought about by that first softball or golf game of the season, or too much yard work in one day.
  • Rotator cuff injury
    The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons in the shoulder that lets you move your arm freely. This area is often injured by sports or activities that require raising the arm over the head, like swimming, tennis, softball, or baseball.
  • Elbow tendonitis, also known as tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow
    This injury is often caused by repetitive arm motions like the movements you make playing tennis or golf. Tendonitis can occur in the tendons on either side of the elbow.
  • Achilles tendonitis
    The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. This tendon becomes more susceptible to injury as you age. Running can lead to problems with this tendon.
  • Knee cartilage or meniscal tear
    Athletes who squat down, like a softball catcher, are more prone to this injury.
  • ACL tear
    The ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, is a ligament in the knee that connects the thighbone to the shinbone.  ACL tears usually occur in sports with a lot of cutting and where there is planting of the foot with associated twisting of the leg.  This injury is feared by many athletes, as it usually requires surgery.

How to avoid injury

  • Stay slim
    Extra weight puts more stress on the joints, and can make it easier to injure them.
  • Warm up and stretch properly before activities
    Fitting in some time for a warm-up before you exercise can help.
  • Develop a regular workout pattern
    It should focus on strengthening all the parts of your body which can also help your body build an extra layer of protection—muscle.
  • Build up the muscles in your legs, shoulders, and arms.
    Extra muscle in these areas can help protect your joints from tears and strains.

If you do strain a muscle, ADC’s Dr. Visahl Kancherla recommends the RICE treatment.  RICE is an acronym for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

If you’re playing the same sport every weekend, make sure to talk to a coach or expert about your technique. If you’re doing something incorrectly, it’s more likely you’ll injure yourself — especially if you repeat that incorrect motion over and over again.

Stretching and balance exercises like yoga or Tai Chi can help your muscles and tendons stay limber as well as improve your balance so you’re less likely to fall down. Try to work on your posture as well. Standing and sitting up straight keeps your spine in line and can help prevent back pain.

Most importantly, if you feel a sharp pain or hurt yourself while working out or playing sports, stop what you’re doing! You’re likely to injure yourself further if you continue, which means more time away from the activities you enjoy. If the pain persists for more than a day or two, see your physical medicine specialist.