Weekend warriors, please don’t overdo it this spring
Spring is in full swing and the urge to get outside and go, go, go is resonating within all of us. Between the natural flow of seasons and likely a prolonged relaxation period thanks to COVID-19, most of us have been moving a little less over the past year. While our brains tell us “you’ve got this,” our muscles, joints, and tendons haven’t received the message. So, before you jump off the couch and on to the court, trail, or field – we have some precautionary advice to help you stay active and safe.
First, let’s define the phrase “weekend warrior.” These are folks, who, due to a long work week and many responsibilities are limited to bursts of weekend exercise. While that scenario makes total sense schedule-wise, it poses a high risk of orthopedic injury.
Some of the most common weekend warrior injuries include:
Rotator cuff tears
Sprains (ankle, wrist)
When our bodies aren’t used to high-intensity activity, we have to ease into movement. Here are some recommendations to prevent orthopedic pain and injury and still have fun.
Warm Up / Stretch / Cool Down / Stretch
These routines are important to the overall success of your activity. Light movement such as a brisk walk, jog in place, or toe touches for 1-3 minutes can signal your body for what’s to come. Stretches will help elasticity, and the more intensive movement that follows will ultimately be easier on your joints. Post-activity, follow a similar cool-down regimen and be sure to stretch again.
Exercise During the Week
Fitting in one more thing during the week seems near impossible, we get it. However, upping your activity on a more consistent basis will build muscle and endurance. Your body will become conditioned to workouts and the chances of orthopaedic injury will sharply decrease. Add a little bit of activity at a time, an increase of 10% each week. Don’t overthink this one! If you can’t fit in a trip to the gym, not to worry. Try to take breaks throughout the day to walk, or do short resistance-based movements, such as squats. Search YouTube, Instagram, or Pinterest for quick workout routines. There is a lot of content out there. Mix it up and have fun!
Outfitting and Equipment
It’s important to prepare for activity by ensuring you have the correct equipment to execute properly. This could mean sneakers, hiking boots, a helmet, pads, etc. It could also mean giving your mountain bike a tune-up or making sure your tennis racket is strung and gripped. Beyond prep for your sport or activity of choice, be sure to closely monitor your form throughout the exercise.
A theme that will likely run through all of our blog entries is the importance of water. Bringing water with you to properly hydrate throughout the day, everyday (regardless of exercise), is important for your body in general. In addition to keeping joints lubricated, staying hydrated regulates body temperature, prevents infection, improves sleep quality and even mood. Who couldn’t use a mood lift? If you’re bored with the same old H2O from the tap, try adding a squeeze of citrus such as lime or lemon. Spice it up with a new drinking vessel, reusable straw, or infuser. Again, check out Pinterest for some great ideas on how to make drinking water fun and delicious.
Body Signals are Key
Tune in to your body and pay close attention to any off-putting feelings. Sharp pains or consistent aches are signs to stop activity and contact your doctor. Pushing through may derail you even further and cause severe orthopedic harm. Getting back into the swing of exercise is a marathon, not a sprint. Even in the case of injury, with the proper orthopedic care, you’ll be back out there in no time.
We’re glad to see you out and about, focused on exercise and health. Be prepared, stay safe, and have fun!