Follow these tips to prevent falling victim to weekend warrior syndrome.
You may not have time to spend hours at the gym during the week, but even 20 minutes of exercise, two or three other days during the week, can go a long way toward keeping your muscles in working shape. Try to include a brief jog or a series of calisthenics including push-ups, jumping jacks, and squats.
Before you do play that game of flag football or run with your kids at the cross country meet, warm your body up a little. Static stretching such as long holds in a forward fold isn’t what your body needs. Go for a brisk walk or jog for a few minutes, then do a few more minutes of jumping jacks and butt kickers to get your muscles ready to move. This dynamic style of warm-up prepares your body for work, improving circulation and muscle activation.
Shoes have specific purposes. If you’re trying to run a 5K in basketball shoes instead of cushioned running shoes, you’re setting yourself up for injury. Invest in a pair that supports the activity you do – even if that activity is only done sparingly. And, remember that shoes do wear out. If you’re wearing sneakers that are older than a year, replace them. The foam and inserts degrade with time regardless of usage.
In the past, you may have exercised five days a week and could tackle an obstacle race without much-specified training. But, if you’ve replaced that exercise time with a sedentary desk job, don’t expect to be able to jump into competition without preparation. Before committing to an event or game, consider your training and be realistic about whether it’s really the right thing to do – or at least, dial back the expectations for your performance.
If exercise isn’t a daily habit, carrying a water bottle might not be either. However, staying hydrated is a critical part of healthy exercise performance. Even a 2% dehydration level can impair muscular power, reaction time, and agility, putting you at greater risk of making a mistake that throws off your game and results in an injury. Carry a water bottle with you to your weekend workouts, and be sure to stay hydrated all day every day for good health.
Pain does not equal gain -- and toughing it out to prove you “can” only sets you up for soreness and injury. Don’t try to impress the younger guys or those who exercise all the time with your fitness level, when the weekend is the only time you get out. If your hip, knee, ankle, or foot starts asking for relief when you’re playing or running, back off your effort to prevent it from becoming something serious.
Stretching is an often overlooked part of a good, safe workout. When you’re done, spend a few minutes tending to all the major muscle groups – especially those you taxed during your session. Stretch during the week, too, even if you don’t have time for much other exercise. This helps discourage inflexibility, which only increases with age. And, being tight means you’ll compensate in the way you move – putting unnecessary strains on certain areas of your body, such as your hamstrings, ankles, and back.
Take care to recover smartly after a weekend power session. Foam roll, get a massage, spend time in the hot tub, and feed your body good nutrition. These simple steps assist your body’s natural healing capabilities so you’re less sore after a weekend session and may be more mobile all week long.
If you’re reading these tips a little too late and you do have lingering soreness or an injury, come see Dr. Nolan for a solution. He’s available whenever you do need treatment for a sports injury.