Are You a Weekend Warrior?
Adults who spend their time off playing on soccer leagues, hitting the tennis courts or jogging in fun runs often find that they’re competing with their bodies as well as the opposing team.
Doctors even have a name for these sometime athletes: weekend warriors. It’s a reference to the two-day intense span that most adults devote to their game, hobby or sport, followed by several days of inactivity (and soreness) during the week.
According to a recent study by the Mayo Clinic, joint and back pain are listed in the top three reasons Americans visit their physician. The problem is that most adult athletes are interested in playing sports on the weekend, but they are habitually uninterested in the conditioning required for athletic readiness. That’s why weekend warriors often experience muscle strains, tendonitis, back pain, shoulder injuries and shin splints.
These five tips could potentially help you to avoid these injuries and excel in your game.
1. Prepare for battle
Taking up a sport at any age is great, but you still have to get in shape to prepare for the activity. If you don’t know how to condition for your particular pastime, trainers are available at almost every gym. Find one who experienced in all age groups and fitness levels.
2. Don't sit down on the job
Sitting behind a desk all week isn't healthy for anyone. Whether you have two minutes or two hours of weekday free time, utilize it to stretch or add in some cardio. Simple steps like parking far from the front door of your office and taking the stairs can help you to stay in fighting shape. Additionally, getting a stand-up desk or getting up from behind your desk at least every 20 minutes (or as much as you are able) can reduce your stiffness.
3. Eat for performance
Proper conditioning is enhanced by a healthful diet. A diet full of fruits, vegetables and lean meats can help your body be sport-ready come the weekend. Hydration is important too. Drink at least 64 ounces of water per day, and on days you exercise be sure to replenish your electrolytes with healthy foods and extra H2O.
4. Even professionals warm up
When the weekend arrives, be sure to warm up before game time. A trainer can help you to formulate stretches appropriate to your fitness level and sport, as well as a cool down routine-- vital to fight next-day stiffness and muscle strains.
5. Don't play through the pain
Treat injuries with rest, ice, compression and elevation to reduce pain and swelling and promote healing. If the injury causes continuous pain, swelling or numbness or you feel unstable when adding weight to it, it is time to visit a physician. Once you're back in shape, however, don’t return to the field, court or gym without some expert advice on preventing the next injury.
With proper groundwork, starting a new sport (or continuing your athletic pursuits) is good for the body and soul. You should however consult your physician when beginning any new activity.
Erika Smith is the Fitness Coordinator at The Lifestyle Center. She earned her bachelor’s of science degree in Health Promotion from Lynchburg College and her personal trainer certification through the American Fitness and Aerobics Association.