'Weekend warriors' who push their bodies too far can easily end up injured

By Mary Beth Schweigert 11:09am, July 27, 2014 - Updated 11:14am, July 27, 2014
Photo by Marty Heisey
Summer is the season for fun runs and twilight pickup basketball games.

But is your body up for the challenge?

Dr. Joel Horning, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports injuries, treats many 35- to 45-year-olds who think they still have the same athletic skills they did 15 years ago, even though they don't train regularly.

"It's the sprains and the strains that really get people," says Horning. "Injuries to the back are also really common as we get older."

Only about 20 percent of Americans follow The Centers for Disease Controls recommendations that adults up to age 64 log 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and two strength-training sessions per week.

People who try to make up for a usually sedentary lifestyle by playing hard on weekends aka weekend warriors risk annoying or painful injuries, Horning says.

"You've got to be smart about what you do," he says, noting that a sprain can require a month's recovery. "You're not going to be able to enjoy any summer activities if you're hurt."

Weekend warriors without a long-term fitness base put joints at risk because the muscles that support them weaken over time, Horning says.

Nonathletes who run a 5K or charity race may under- or over-train and come up short of their goals, he says. Even skipping a warm-up before a Saturday afternoon hike can make it easier to turn an ankle or trip.

Pay close attention to hydration, Horning says. Thirst is an early sign of dehydration; more severe symptoms such as dizziness require a timeout. Keep in mind that alcohol also leads to dehydration, as well as poor decision-making, he says.

Mary Beth Schweigert writes for the Lifestyle section of Lancaster Newspapers and LancasterOnline.com.

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