LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Take South Florida’s enticing tropical
climate, add an improving economy and throw in the booming
popularity of high-intensity workouts like Insanity, CrossFit
and Zumba, and what do you get?
lot of injuries, orthopedic surgeons say.
perfect storm of fun, sun, fitness and torn ligaments has a
season in South Florida, and it peaks about now, when
year-round residents and snowbirds alike get out to enjoy the
the temperature dropping here in South Florida, people are
jumping headfirst into a range of outdoor activities without
adequately preparing," Boca Raton orthopedic surgeon Dr.
Eric Lloyd said. "After spending the summer indoors and
doing very little physical activity, their bodies are not
ready and need to be eased into athletics and exercise."
"weekend warrior" injuries — named for, but not
exclusive to, the fitness buffs who cram their workouts into
the end of the work week — span the demographic spectrum,
doctors say. But they are becoming increasingly common in
people in their 50s and 60s — the years when exercise
enthusiasts are beginning to come face to face with the
realities of age.
no question I am seeing more people who are older in years,
but they’re maintaining the same level of activity they did
in their younger years," said Dr. Jonathan Levy, chief of
orthopedics at Fort Lauderdale’s Holy Cross Hospital.
"Their bodies are not keeping up with their desire to
Romer can attest to that. At 51, the Delray Beach commercial
mortgage broker has had to come to terms with the effects of
age after suffering a separated shoulder and two meniscus
tears in the past few years. Though he sustained some cracked
ribs and tweaked ankles playing ice hockey most of his life,
the shoulder injury was the first time he required surgery.
fully recognize that my age is a factor in the activities I’m
doing," said Romer, adding that he’s pared back his ice
hockey playing from three nights to once a week. "I can’t
compete at the level I used to compete at."
Bergman, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist
in Boca Raton, thinks the increase in such injuries is rooted
in America’s improving economy, which has encouraged more
people to retire early to South Florida. Many of them are
relishing the area’s pro-fitness climate, to their own
lot of these people, 55- to 65-year-olds, are getting into
Zumba, they’re getting into CrossFit, and they’re just
going crazy," Bergman said.
high-intensity programs are "great workouts,"
Hollywood orthopedic surgeon Dr. Johannes Blom said, but a lot
of them require jumping, heavy lifting and lots of fast,
unconventional movements, often with inadequate warmup
preparation or training in proper techniques. "The older
population doesn’t handle that well."
typical injuries doctors are seeing are the result of overuse,
often over time — knee ligament tears, sprained ankles, torn
rotator cuffs, pulled muscles.
you get older, the collagen in your tissue changes," said
Dr. Daniel B. Chan, an orthopedic surgeon at Memorial Regional
Hospital in Hollywood. "It doesn’t have as much
elasticity as when you were younger."
could be performing the same move you have for years, and that
last swing of the racket or step of the foot can lead to what
Levy calls "the straw that broke the camel’s back kind
of the thing" — a sudden tear in a tendon or ligament.
was a time such injuries were uncommon in people in their
retirement years, said Dr. Erol Yoldas, an orthopedic surgeon
at Broward Health Medical Center and Broward Health Imperial
Point in Fort Lauderdale. Now, though, people in their 60s,
70s and older are enjoying an active lifestyle.
have a generation of people who are really into fitness, and
they see no reason to go quietly into the night, so to
speak," Yoldas said. "So that’s parlaying itself
into a situation where we’re seeing more of these