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Simple Tips to Avoid Weekend Warrior Injuries

How to Avoid Weekend Warrior Injuries:

It’s important to be physically active, and avoid injuries at the same time. This is especially important for the ‘weekend warrior’.  If your job is sedentary or your daily activities don’t require physical exertion, it’s extremely important to plan ahead in order to avoid exercise related injuries. After all, the human body was not built to go from ‘inactive’ mode to ‘weekend warrior’ mode in an instant.  Yet, this is exactly what many people ask their bodies to do each weekend.

Common “Weekend Warrior” injuries include joint inflammation, muscle tears, and ligament sprains.  Most of these injuries can be treated with physical therapy after the acute symptoms have subsided.  In severe cases, surgery might be needed to repair injured tissues (ligaments, meniscus, etc).  In order to avoid injury, exercise intensity must be progressive; otherwise the risk of injury increases.  Professional athletes prepare for months (sometimes years) to reach a certain level of physical performance.  Athletes prepare their bodies for months during the off-season.  Their off-season routine is progressively ramped up (called periodization training) so that by the time their season rolls around, their muscles, joints, and ligaments are ready for the intensity of the season.  Weekend Warriors tend to bypass ‘preparation’ and jump right into intense activity at the risk of injury.

Weekend Warrior Dos and Don’ts to Avoid Injury:

The true weekend warrior isn’t going to let a little poor preparation keep them getting involved in a “friendly” game of tennis, the Thanksgiving TurkeyBowl, a “nice little” hike to the top of the nearest peak, or the community fun run.  Here are a few tips to help you avoid injury.

  1. Be Realistic – don’t expect your body to adapt right away to intense activities.
  2. Gear Up – make sure that you have the right gear.  If you aren’t physically ready, at least you can look the part.  The right gear might keep from getting injured.
  3. Stay hydrated – dehydration can lead to feeling prematurely exhausted, and potentially heat stroke.
  4. Warm Up – this is a simple, yet often neglected way to avoid injuries.  This is also a must for the Weekend Warrior.  Five to Ten minutes of marching, light jogging, or jumping jacks combined with stretching will help loosen up your unprepared muscles.  Skip the warm up at your own risk!
  5. Cool Down – many Weekend Warriors will celebrate the fact that they made it through their activity and forget to cool down.  A cool down period helps restore blood circulation and reduce injuries.  An additional five minutes of walking to cool down along with stretching again can help to negate some of the effects of muscle soreness the following day.
  6. Plan Ahead – if you know you have an event coming up, use the 3-4 weekends before the event to help bridge the physical gap from your current abilities to what will be required of your body.
  7. Exercise Regularly – to avoid weekend warrior injuries altogether, exercise consistently to increase your strength, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, and functional movements.

Physical Therapy for All Ages:

If you are a senior weekend warrior, your body is more susceptible to tears, sprains, strains, and other injuries. In fact, there are almost 80 million ‘baby boomers’ in the United States alone. Physical therapy plays an important role in injury prevention for weekend warriors of all ages.

If you are one of the many weekend warriors, here are a few ways that a physical therapist can help:

  • Assessment of Your Body Mechanics/Movements – Your ability to do simple things like move, walk, sit and stand is important to us. We use the Functional Movement Sceen for non-injured individuals and the Selective Functional Movement Assessment for injured individuals to gain insight into your current abilities so we can create an injury prevention program.
  • Home Exercise Programs – Once we have reduced your pain, inflammation and restored your muscle strength in the clinic, we’ll design a personalized home exercise program for you. This will help you maintain your results in the comfort of your own home.
  • Treatment Techniques – Physical therapy techniques include hot and cold packs, electrical stimulation, manual therapy, functional movement training, gait training and much more to deal with different types of injuries.

At Achieve Physical Therapy, we are committed to helping you do the things you enjoy over the weekend. Regardless of your age and activity level, physical therapy can help prevent injuries and improve well-being. Call us today. We will help you make the most out of your weekends!