How to avoid weekend warrior injuries

By Dan Skulavik - Contributing columnist

It’s important to be physically active, and avoid injuries at the same time. This is especially important for a ‘weekend warrior’, which is a term we use for anyone that participates in a much higher level of physical activity on the weekend compared to their daily/work life routine. If you are sedentary, it’s extremely important to plan ahead in order to avoid exercise-related injuries. After all, the human body cannot go from ‘inactive’ mode to ‘weekend warrior’ mode in an instant.

Exercise intensity must be progressive; otherwise the risk for injury increases. Think about it, 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, as they prepare their body for an intense season. Weekend warriors tend to bypass ‘preparation’ and jump right into intense activity.

Common injuries include joint inflammation, muscle tears, and ligament sprains. Most injuries can be treated with physical therapy after the acute symptoms have subsided. In severe cases, surgery might be needed. It’s important for weekend warriors to be realistic. For starters, don’t expect your body to adapt right away to intense activities. If you have been inactive all week long, your body will not be prepared for physical challenges over the weekend. Make sure you have protective gear, and stay hydrated.

So what are a couple of things that you should keep in mind when attempting your weekend warrior activities? The first is a proper warm up and cool down period. A warm up is a simple, yet neglected way to avoid injuries. Eight to ten minutes of walking or light jogging, combined with some light stretching is a great way to prepare your body for progressive exercise intensity and minimize injuries. Second, when you’re finished with your activity, do not come to a sudden stop. Give your muscles a chance to recover by reducing your intensity, but keep moving. For example, if you have been running, don’t come to a stop. Walk for the last few minutes. A cool down period helps restore blood circulation and reduce injuries. And lastly always remember to plan ahead by having realistic goals and expectations. For best results, get some regular exercise every day. This allows your body to adapt and prepare for your favorite weekend activities.

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 taking advantage of the beautiful fall weather (when it’s not raining), 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 this insight to 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 exercise, hot and cold packs, ultrasound, manual therapy, and much more to deal with different types of injuries.

As your physical therapists, 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 if you are in pain or if you have been suffering with recurrent or chronic pain. Sometimes a few simple tweaks in your exercise routine is all it takes to get you back to a fully healthy and pain free lifestyle again.

Dr. Daniel Skulavik, PT, DPT, OCS, is with Advanced Physical Therapy located in the Food Lion Shopping Center, Clinton.

By Dan Skulavik

Contributing columnist

Dr. Daniel Skulavik, PT, DPT, OCS, is with Advanced Physical Therapy located in the Food Lion Shopping Center, Clinton.

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