Weekend Warrior? What You Can Do Right Now To Reduce Your Risk of Injury
Are You A Weekend Warrior?
Planning on getting together with the guys for a game of football this weekend? Shooting some hoops or running a 5K? If so, are you sure your body is prepared for this kind of intense physical activity?
It’s no secret that many Brookfield residents are crunched for time in today’s world, leading many to cram all their exercise and physical activity into the 48 hours of the weekend. But after a sedentary 40-hour workweek, 18 holes of golf or a intense weight-lifting session can take a toll on the body. We call them weekend warriors, and the rationale for their behavior is usually “some exercise is better than none.” Unfortunately, this attitude usually increases risk for injury and research has shown that it actually does little to improve overall fitness levels.
The Dangers of Weekend-Only Exercise
We’re often reluctant to admit that our bodies aren’t as resilient as they were when we were teenagers. But the fact is that as we age our ligaments and tendons tend to get stiffer and the range of motion in our joints decreases. For those who suffer from degenerative joint disease, the cartilage inside joints may weak or worn down, predisposing your musculoskeletal system to an even higher risk of damage.
Without a gradual build-up in exercise intensity to prepare your body, everyone will experience delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), but as a sports chiropractor I’m more concerned about the knee, back and neck pain, rotator cuff injuries, ankle sprains, tennis elbows, and muscle strains that are common with weekend warrior syndrome.
In fact, more than 10,000 Americans visit emergency rooms every day for these weekend warrior-related injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A Better Strategy
The ideal plan for good physical fitness combines training for flexibility, strength and cardiovascular health at least every other day. By making a conscious effort to include all three throughout the week, not only do you get the benefits associated with each, but you decrease the risk of injury when you do decide to participate in weekend sports.
Are you a weekend warrior? A better plan is to break your exercise sessions into smaller, more frequent increments and to avoid exercising too much, too soon. Examine your weekly routine and look for places you might be able to add in small amounts of exercise. Can you squeeze in a brisk 15-minute walk at lunch to get your cardiovascular system more accustomed to movement and exercise? Can you add ten minutes of Pilates/yoga stretching and strengthening exercises in the morning to help maintain your strength and flexibility? Most weekend warriors can avoid many of their injuries, aches and pains by committing to just 25 to 30 minutes of stretching and strengthening a few times during the week.
The Importance Of Warming Up & Cooling Down
When it finally comes time to kick it into high gear on the weekend, remember to start slow, give the body time to warm up then gradually increase the intensity. There are two types of stretching: static and dynamic. Dynamic stretching, which involves moving slowly through the range of motion of sport-specific movements, should be utilized before beginning high intensity physical activity. For example, if you’re going to be running, walk while swinging your leg up to your waist, hold for a second, and then repeat with the other leg. Try lunges and shoulder circles as well. Aim for at least five minutes of dynamic stretching to get muscles primed and your heart rate up before activity.
The cool down, which is just as important as a warm up, should gradually decrease your heart rate back to normal and include static stretching to avoid muscle soreness the next day. With these stretches, the aim is to stretch the muscle (or group of muscles) to its end range of motion and hold it there. Try to hold a static stretch for about 30 seconds. If the muscle is particularly stiff, work your way up to 60 seconds.
Finally, remember that sore muscles are normal after an intense workout, but if you feel sharp or stabbing pain, stop exercising immediately. Call your chiropractor if the pain doesn’t go away after a few days. At Ascent Chiropractic in Brookfield we utilize gentle, non-thrusting spinal adjustments along with specific therapeutic exercises and stretches to relieve symptoms, correct abnormal spinal positioning and help prevent future problems. To make an appointment today, call us at 262-345-4166 or use our online scheduling app.