If you’re a weekend warrior, you need to know about injury prevention
The key to successful exercise is injury prevention. Do you work way too many hours during the week? Life often gets so busy that exercise gets put on the back burner. You try to make up for a week’s worth of inactivity in one or two days on the weekend. Thus, you become a weekend warrior. Your intentions are good. Getting exercise during the weekend is certainly a positive since exercising even 1-2 times per week can help reduce your risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
This sudden burst of activity after sitting in front of a computer all week can trigger musculoskeletal injury or strain. This will keep you from exercising at all! You become more susceptible to injury because the level of physical activity required to participate in recreation is not maintained during the week.
Weekend warrior injuries can include both traumatic and overuse injuries. Some common injuries include:
- Hamstring strains
- Ankle sprains
- Runner’s knee (patella-femoral pain)
- Lower back strains
- Pulled muscles
- Shoulder or rotator cuff tendonitis
There are several ways to reduce your risk of injury during recreational activity
Warming up properly is crucial for injury prevention. This does not mean showing up to stretch five minutes before the game starts. Warm-ups need to be comprehensive. It should consist of 10-15 minutes of activity that is relevant to the activity you are doing. Static stretching should be avoided. Static stretching before exercise has been shown to weaken or shut down muscles and cause injury. Instead, try active stretching. Swing kicks, high knee walking, and footwork drills will stretch and warm-up your muscles properly. This does not guarantee that you won’t strain or injure a muscle, however, performing an active warm-up prepares your body by increasing the muscle activation and increasing blood flow to the soft tissues.
Drink plenty of water before and after your activity of choice. Drink water steadily throughout the day leading up to the event. Don’t wait until game time or three miles into a hike to start drinking water. Loss of water content through sweating can affect your physical abilities dramatically. This includes production of muscular force, reaction time, speed, and agility. Make sure you bring water with you to whatever sport or activity you are participating in.
We already mentioned the effects of static stretching before an event as part of your warm-up. That doesn’t mean you should avoid it altogether. Static stretches of 45-60 seconds after activity can help to reduce soreness and stiffness in your joints and muscles. Stretch those hamstrings, calves and quads after you finish exercising. Try to stretch more during the week as well. Improving flexibility will keep your body from compensating and allow you to move more effectively.
Exercise and challenge muscles during the week
This is very important to avoiding injury. Dedicate some time during the week to get exercise specific to the activity you are doing. To perform at a higher level, muscles need to be trained. You wouldn’t just show up the day of a triathalon without training and expect to perform well, would you?
What else can be done for weekend warriour injury prevention?
I know it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day. Remember, even 30 minutes of function specific exercise twice a week can help you improve performance. Let’s get out to hike, bike or run. Let’s do it without injury.
For more information on training for your sport or activity, contact Optimize Therapy and Fitness. Learn about our one-on-one personal training for injury prevention and improved performance. If you already have an injury, we can help with that too. Our physical therapists are specially trained in injury prevention.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
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