Warning Weekend Warriors

The Physical Reality Of 40 And Up May Require Some Precautions Before Continuing Those Intense Workouts

Avoiding injury during exercise after 40

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If you’re a man over 40, you’ve inevitably heard people tell you that you’re getting older and that your body can’t do what it used to. For David Soitsmann a 50-year-old CrossFit athlete, those words of caution sounded all too familiar, but, “Maybe I didn’t want to face reality,” he says. “I don’t feel like I’m 50.”

Soitsmann is referring to his Achilles tendon, which shattered last September. “It felt like somebody stepped on the back of my leg,” he says.  

It happened during CrossFit, an intense strength and conditioning program that is a constant and varied mix of functional movements such as squats, push presses and deadlifting, as defined by CrossFit Hampton Roads. Soitsmann was in the middle of a third round of sprints and burpees when, “I looked around at everybody, and they were halfway down the gym and I was like, ‘What the heck just happened?’”

Five days later Soitsmann had surgery and is now working his way back to CrossFit and also running, which he used to do prior to jumping into the more physically demanding workout regimen. Pre-injury, the sales executive actually finished the Richmond Marathon with his wife. “Now that I think about it, I did feel pain on that same leg [where the Achilles ruptured], but figured it wasn’t anything.”

And that’s typical of the injuries that Jeremy Gordon sees at his CrossFit Hampton Roads gym. “Shoulder injuries, sometimes knee, a ruptured Achillies, are all pretty common for our older male athletes. But these would have happened with previous activities like playing basketball or even chasing after their kids, taking their shirt off or simply rolling out of bed.”

Tina Keasy, a performance and fitness coordinator for the Tidewater Physicians Multispecialty Group says for men over 40, “Achilles does come up a lot, especially for men who get up and go back to where they were before.  It’s aggravated by that explosive-type push-off movement like in running or a CrossFit box jump.”

Recreational athletes are more likely than pros to suffer Achilles tendon injuries, says a new study in the journal Foot & Ankle International that analyzed more than 400 people where 83 percent were men around the age of 46. Unfortunately the Kobe Bryants of the world get all the publicity. So let this serve as a warning for you weekend warriors.  

Shoulder injuries are also common due to a loss of muscle strength and incorrect posture. “A lot of men over 40 are confined to a desk in front of a computer,” says Keasy, who has helped treat this injury many times for her office-confined patients.

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