You Might Be A Weekend Warrior

Historically, those who play hard on the weekend but don’t tend to exercise much during the week are termed Weekend Warriors. And, we have all heard that they may be more prone to injuries because they surprise their bodies with activity. But the reality is, most of us engage in Weekend Warrior activities in real life fairly frequently, whether that is raking leaves for the first time in 10 months, going water skiing for the first time this summer, or putting a 40# bag of salt in the softener every 3 months. If it’s a new activity for you, that qualifies you as a Weekend Warrior. But if that makes us more prone to injuries, we should make some changes.

What are the causes of sport related or “new” activity injuries:
- increasing activity too quickly
- initiating activity without allowing for adequate rest
- lack of appropriate stretching or strengthening prior to increasing the intensity of exercise
-putting the body through a movement pattern that it hasn’t seen in a long time

Many factors can influence your potential for becoming injured. Some of these things include your age, your fitness level, your body size, any muscle imbalances and certainly your use of appropriate techniques during exercise or various movements. The good news is that there are many aspects of your life that are within your control that can keep you healthy. At a very basic level this includes your attention to flexibility, muscle strength and conditioning.

So, what should you do to address these aspects of your health?

1. Resistance Training
  Strength training can be performed with either low repetitions and higher weight which indeed gains you muscle strength. Or similar resistance training can be performed with high repetitions and low weight which allow for high blood flow, tissue healing and activity initiation.

2. Flexibility
Although tight muscles shouldn’t be blamed for every injury, it is best not to surprise” a tight muscle. So, warm up 5-10 minutes on a bike or by walking prior to exercising. Hold stretches for 15 seconds each. Perform specific controlled, dynamic movements to prepare your body for what it is about to do. We will discuss this more in the next section. Cool down for 5-10 minutes and stretch the muscles you just used.

3. Neuromuscular Education and Proprioception
  You can think of your neuromuscular system as a series of reflexes working together to automatically trigger the right muscles to react. Proprioceptors are receptors in joints, muscles and ligaments that are sensitive to stretch, pressure or tension. These receptors give the brain input about body positioning and movements. Both the neuromuscular system and the proprioceptive system can be stimulated through sport specific or occupational specific tasks or exercises that you can take your body through to prepare your joints and muscles for the upcoming tasks.

Based on this information, here are some ways to help you minimize injury.

1. Make sure to warm up and stretch properly before exercise or a strenuous activity.

2. Make sure to increase any training regimen gradually; this includes both intensity and the duration of the involved activity.

3. Use proper techniques whether that be lifting weights or moving the couch.

4. Although sport specific activity is best when training for something, cross training (performing other conditioning or strengthening activities) on occasion are good for allowing other muscle groups and joints to get appropriate rest.

5. Pay attention to joint pains and muscle irritation or soreness, and make sure to rest and ice appropriately.

6. Finally, perform activity specific exercises or movements in a controlled environment and at a moderated speed prior to engaging in the actual activity. For example, if you haven’t played basketball in 3 months, you should do some lunges and jumps and perform some jogging prior to playing 5 on 5. If you are going to spread 12 yards of mulch today, you should do some bending at the waist, perform some trunk rotations and ideally, you would have begun a bit of upper body strengthening a couple weeks earlier. Think about what you are going to be doing, and perform those body movements in very controlled environments.

So, no matter the sport or activity, prepare your body for your Weekend Warrior movements. If there is anything we can do to help you in your process, please contact us at River Valley Orthopedics.

Scott DeVries, MSPT, OCS