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Health & Exercise Forum

Boomeritis: Sports injuries of the baby boomers

Mar 11, 2009

Dr. Paul MackareyOver the past several weeks I have written several columns related to sports injury prevention, proper training techniques, hydration, nutrition, marathon recovery, tendonitis etc. However, I feel it is also my responsibility to report the effects of over training and over exercising. While the end result is mostly physical, the cause is often psychological. We all know the personality type: type A, hyperactive, goal-oriented, driven, possessed and highly organized - almost at all costs! By now, my family and friends are thinking that I am describing myself. While it may be true, I am not alone! Many Clarks Summit residents know Dick Kane, Pat Fricchone, and Dr. Joe Gronsky as the fitness nuts running through the streets at 5:30 AM for 6-10-15 miles each day. What they may not know is that later in the day they play golf, tennis, ski, swim, play sports with their kids. Well, after 20 years they are now suffering the effects of long term multiple micro traumas. They is suffering from what orthopedic surgeons at the University of Pennsylvania call "Boomeritis! Boomeritis is inflammation of the baby boomer from overuse. Lower back pain, hip, groin, and knee pain is almost a daily event.
As baby boomers continue to enjoy sports with the same vigor and intensity as when they were younger, they are finding that their older bodies just can't keep up. While these individuals often succeed in finding the balance of fitness and craziness, they have had times when they took it too far. Furthermore, nearly all compulsive exercisers suffer from over training syndrome. When take too far compulsive behavior is rationalized by insisting that if they didn't work to extreme then their performance would suffer.

10 Warning Signs of a Compulsive Exerciser (E. Quinn):

  1. You force yourself to exercise even if you don't feel well
  2. You almost never exercise for fun
  3. Every time you exercise, you go as fast & hard as you can
  4. You experience severe stress & anxiety if you miss a workout
  5. You miss family obligations because you have to exercise
  6. You calculate how much to exercise based on how much you eat
  7. You would rather exercise than get together with friends
  8. You can't relax because you think you are not burning calories
  9. You worry that you'll gain weight if you skip exercising for one day
  10. Rain, sleet, or hail would not prevent you from exercising

*Each sign is worth 1 point:
• 1-3 Points = Normal compliance & disciplined behavior
• 3-5 Points = Caution but OK
• 5-7 Points = Reexamine goals
• 7-10 Points = Get Help

10 Warning Signs of Overtraining (E. Quinn):

  1. Mild leg soreness & general achiness
  2. Pain in muscles & joints
  3. Washed-out feeling, tired, drained & lack of energy
  4. Sudden drop in ability to run "normal" distance or times
  5. Insomnia
  6. Headaches
  7. Inability relax, twitchy, fidgety
  8. Insatiable thirst, dehydration
  9. Lower resistance to common illnesses: colds, sore throat etc.
  10. Exercise starts to feel like a job

Managing Overtraining

If you have two or more of the warning sings, consult your family physician to rule out potentially serious problems.

  • Stop and rest. Taking several days off is the best treatment. 3-5 days off if overtraining for 3-4 weeks and 3-5 weeks if severe and prolonged overtraining.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Alter you diet by eating health carbs (fruit, veggies, pasta)
  • Alternate your routine to prevent stagnation. Cross training will use different muscles (lift: arms Mon & Wed, legs Tues & Thur, Aerobic: run Mon & Wed and bike Tues & Thur).
  • Try a massage to mobilize built up lactic acid in your muscles.
  • Use RICE (rest, ice, compression elevation) for acute injuries (strains, muscle/tendon soreness) associated with exercise.
  • Have Fun! Mix in fun sports and activities to break the monotony by adding fun activities such as golf (walk 5-7 miles and carry a light bag), swim, bike, ski, hike and play tennis. Remember, overtraining problems occur in single sport athletes.
  • Limit Intensity - only work out intensely 2-3 times out of 5 days per week.

Visit your family doctor regularly, and listen to your body.