Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Warning to Weekend Warriors

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Warning to Weekend Warriors

Article excerpt

If you are planning on cleaning out the garden, hitting the tennis court or returning to the softball diamond, ease into it. Taking it slowly may end up saving you time, money and a lot of pain.

Orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine experts say spring is one of their busiest times of the year. They can count on "weekend warriors" turning up in their offices with all kinds of preventable injuries.

"Performance expectation is the problem. People expect to perform at a certain level immediately. They are not in condition, but they have the same expectations that they had last fall," says Dr. Herbert Haupt, medical director of West County Sports Fitness Center. He expects to be very busy over the next several weeks with people who tried to get their yards in shape in just one day, or who returned to the tennis court after not touching a racquet in months.

Haupt, an orthopedic surgeon at Barnes Hospital, says he sees patients who have a lot of pain from sprained ankles, muscle pulls and overuse injuries involving the elbows and shoulders.

In many cases, simply taking time to warm up with stretching exercises and doing things gradually could have avoided the injury.

But that kind of slow warm-up requires patience, something hard to come by nowadays. People feeling the pressure of "time poverty" are apt to plunge ahead, doing yard work or playing sports hard because they are trying to crowd everything into a busy schedule. But they may find themselves even shorter on time if injury slows them down.

"If joints and muscles have not been used for a considerable amount of time, they tend to contract. It requires some gentle stretching to mobilize them prior to activities. It warms them up so they can be loose and not pop or break," advises Dr. Richard Rames, an orthopedic surgeon at St. Luke's Hospital.

He says gardening is one of the major culprits. …

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