Weekend Warriors: play hard, have fun and stay injury free
January 31, 2017
Dr. Kevin Plancher with Plancher Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine with tips for weekend warriors
Weekend warriors are people who find little time to play in their favorite sports during the workweek, but instead, pack a weeks’ worth of them into the two short weekend days. The goal for these folks is to enjoy their sports while staying injury free.
“The good news is that ‘weekend-warrior’ type exercise is beneficial to the cardiovascular system,” explains Kevin Plancher, M.D., founder of lancher Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine. The benefits of physical activity, even if just on the weekends, include improved overall health, increased energy, weight management and sheer fun. “So while we encourage our patients to exercise regularly, if that’s not possible, we are happy for them to get out on the weekends and play a game, run a bit and work up a sweat, adds Dr. Plancher. We offer the following tips for understanding the risks for injury helping them to stay healthy.”
‘Weekend Warrior’ Risks
Dr. Plancher offers that sometimes ‘Weekend Warrior’ activities are welcoming for injury. “They are often greater in intensity than weekday exercise sessions,” he explains. For example, many weekend warrior sports like soccer, basketball, golf and tennis tend to involve groups of players. “Playing a sport with a group of buddies or on a team can inspire a more competitive spirit than, say, walking or jogging alone,” says Dr. Plancher. “The more competitive the game, the more likely we are to push our bodies past their limits, increasing the risk of injuries,” he says. According to Dr. Plancher the typical weekend warrior injuries are most likely to occur in the joints and muscles of the knees, shoulders and elbows. “That’s because they are the three key areas that receive the most shock and friction during these ‘Weekend Warrior’ activities.”
Ready, Set, Play
Dr. Plancher offers the following tips to prepare the body for a weekend of intense sports activity:
Sneak in some weekday activity. “Weekend Warriors’ can take small steps during the week to prepare themselves for their weekend activities,” Dr. Plancher points out. For example, he suggests taking a quick 20-30 minute
walk at lunch each day, or keeping a set of light weights in the office and fitting in a couple of sets of lifts during the day. Dr. Plancher also suggests using a resistance band to stretch the shoulders and back muscles while in the office. Lastly, where possible, core strengthening such as planks or sit-ups can help prevent back injury. In all, any movement that can keep the muscles engaged and the joints moving will help prepare the body for the more intense activity on the weekends.
Make sure to warm-up and stretch on game day.Dr. Plancher advises that it is critical to warm-up the body and muscles before getting out on the field or court. He suggests a short jog or brisk walk in advance of the game to get the blood flowing and increase joint flexibility. He also advocates for some gentle stretching work to prepare the muscles for a more intense workout.
Know when to rest “Weekend Warriors’ should be mindful of when they are over doing it and should allow for reasonable resting during long games or physical activities,” Dr. Plancher advises. “It’s OK, in fact, imperative, to take regular rest breaks and to hydrate the body. If substitutes are available, take the opportunity for a rest. You don’t need to be the last guy down the mountain or play all 4 quarters of a Saturday basketball game to have some fun. The odds for injury increase when players are tired.” he adds.
Don’t over-do it. “Knowing when you’ve had enough is not always easy, but it’s particularly important for ‘Weekend Warriors’. Dr. Plancher advises to pay attention to signals from the body indicating that it is overworked, or injured, and immediately stop the activity.” Dr. Plancher warns that “some sports-related joint and muscle injuries require immediate medical attention to minimize further damage. If you feel that you might have injured your knee or shoulder during a game, take a rest and if pain persists, see a doctor sooner than later.
Most importantly. Make sure your health can allow for exercise. Check first with your internist before starting any new exercise regimen.
“Weekend sports are lots of fun and when played with a reasonable attitude and attention to safety, they can be a wonderful way to enjoy a Saturday or Sunday afternoon with friends or family,” adds Dr. Plancher.
Kevin D. Plancher, MD, is a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon and the founder of Plancher Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine. Plancher Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine is a general orthopaedics and sports medicine practice with offices in New York City and Greenwich, CT. www.plancherortho.com