When summer does come you want to be outside enjoying the great weather by jogging, playing basketball, hiking, riding your bike or whatever it is you like to do. So that’s great! Go for it. But remember that stuffing most of your weekly exercise into just two days qualifies you for weekend warrior status. While it’s better to be a Weekend Warrior than to be sedentary, sporadic exercise may set you up for sports injuries that put a damper on your outdoor fun, your job or even your whole summer.
Health Benefits and Injury Risks
Ultimately, it’s ideal to get exercise most days, but those who only have time to exercise sporadically experience health benefits that people that are sedentary do not. Even one or two workout sessions per week is enough to help reduce possible injuries in the weekend warrior.
While occasional exercise is associated with increased life expectancy, it’s also linked to an increased risk of injury. This may be caused by Weekend Warriors over doing it themselves as they attempt to cram the most activity in the least amount of time. Another reason is that Weekend Warrior athletes are vulnerable because they may not be as experienced, conditioned or just getting older for their particular sport or even sports. Ultimately, the increased injury risk could be a combination of these factors and maybe others. But regardless of the reason sporadic exercise has effects, here are some steps the Weekend Warrior can take to help decrease their risk of injury.
Common Weekend Warrior Injuries
- Ankle Sprain
Ankle sprains are among the most common sports injury, and occur when a twisted ankle stretches or tears the ligaments that surround the ankle.
- Shoulder Injuries
Depending on the activity, shoulder injuries—including sprains, strains, and dislocations can occur, especially with overuse.
- Shin Splints
Many joggers and runners complain of shin splits, which are pains that run along the front of the lower legs.
- Hamstring Strain
Hamstring muscles, which are located on the back of the thigh, can be stretched from activities like running. Because hamstring muscles are difficult to rest, injury is fairly common.
- Groin Pull
Inner thigh muscles, or groin muscles, can be strained when pushing off in a lateral, side-to-side movement.
- ACL Tear (knee)
The anterior cruciate ligament essentially connects the leg bone to the knee. When runners stop too suddenly, or when athletes are struck in the knee during a contact sport, ACL tears can occur, and often require surgery.
- Tennis Elbow
Any repetitive use of the elbow, such as hitting a tennis ball or a racquetball can irritate the elbow’s tendons and cause tenderness.
Tips to Help Prevent Weekend Warrior Injuries
Fortunately, injuries can often be prevented with adequate preparation and a bit of caution. Here are a few tips:
- Don’t Save Your Workouts for the Weekend
Try to exercise every other day, week in, week out, to keep your body in shape for your weekend fun.
- Set Realistic Goals for Yourself
If you haven’t done a sport or exercise for years, don’t expect to be able to start right back at the level where you left off. Begin doing conditioning exercises that prepare your joints and muscles for the sport. Then start back slowly and gradually increase your distance or duration.
- Warm Up Before Beginning Your Activity
Many people skip warm-up exercises because they want to get right to the main activity. But even 10 minutes of stretching tight muscles can go a long way toward preventing injuries.
- Mix it Up
Focusing on just one sport or activity can over strain certain parts of your body. Try cross training, where you combine several diverse activities—like swimming and jogging, or cycling and basketball.
- Listen to Your Body
Yes, exercise takes some discipline and determination, but pushing through the pain increases your risk of injury, or of exacerbating an existing injury. If it hurts, back off a bit or take a break.
- Treating Your Warrior Wounds
Minor aches, pains, and strains can often be treated with rest and an ice pack. But when in doubt, see a medical professional at Total Health Systems in Macomb county
because it could lead to something more serious.
Mike Golemba PTA, Total Health Systems