The trick to avoiding weekend warrior injuries

August 08, 2017 | by Heather Grier
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

You or someone you know has probably received a "weekend warrior" injury at one time or another.

So what is a weekend warrior, you ask?

week•end war•ri•or
noun; NORTH AMERICAN; informal
: A person who participates in a usually physically strenuous activity only on weekends or part-time

Injuries often strike when the body and muscles are not conditioned for a certain activity or physical strain. When you participate in an activity your muscles aren't used to, there is an increased risk for muscle or ligament injury. In addition, muscles and joints that have not been warmed up and or stretched properly before an activity are at an increased risk for injury.

Some common injuries that can occur with infrequent or inconsistent exercise are:

  • Muscle strains, such as hamstring injuries
  • Ligament sprains, particularly ankle sprains
  • Tendonitis in the Achilles tendon and elsewhere
  • Shin splints
  • Shoulder or rotator cuff injuries
  • Low back pain

By incorporating exercise and stretching as part of your everyday life, at least 3-5 days a week, you can help to avoid these types of injuries. Also, your muscles will be more conditioned for athletic activities.

Here are a few tips to help you avoid weekend warrior injuries:

  • Gradually build up your activity level. If you have not been active for quite some time, gradually increase your exercise time and intensity each week.
  • Warm up. Before you begin an activity, warm up your muscles by doing 10-15 minutes of a moderately-paced activity like jogging.
  • Do some stretching. After a few minutes of light exercise, stretch your major muscle groups or other muscles that will be heavily used during your specific activity. You should also stretch when you finish exercising. Findings about the benefits of pre-exercise stretching are mixed, but stretching after exercise has clear benefits for decreasing soreness and helping muscle tissue return to its normal state.
  • Use proper technique and appropriate equipment. It may help to consult a professional in the field if you are completely new to a sport or equipment.
  • Consider a consistent exercise program. A fitness center, class or race training group can help you set a good pace for working toward your exercise goals. A good instructor can modify a workout to accommodate any fitness level.
  • Don’t push yourself through serious pain. Being mildly sore is normal after a workout, but stop exercising if you experience sudden, shooting pain or if you have pain that is getting increasingly worse.

Basically, the way to avoid common "weekend warrior" injuries is to NOT be a weekend warrior in the first place. Make exercise and movement part of your everyday life, and you will avoid common injuries associated with infrequent exercise.

Maybe you’re a weekend warrior or a regular golfer, tennis player or road race enthusiast. Unfortunately, sidelining pain and injuries, such as arthritis and tendinopathy, can prevent you from staying active. Surgery should be the last resort, so how can you help yourself get back in the game?

Join us at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24 at Elmhurst Hospital, as Alex Behar, M.D., a specialist in sports medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation with Elmhurst Neuroscience Institute, talks about common sports injuries and treatment options available. Register now.

Get a free fitness assessment when you join Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness.

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