A weekend warrior is typically the type of person who is busy Monday to Friday, with a relatively sedentary day job or busy with family chores, but then tries to make up for it on the weekend by doing intense bouts of exercise.
These top tips can help you avoid the typical kind of injuries that we often see from weekend warriors, including muscle tears, ligament strains and tendon injuries. In addition, these can also help you avoid exacerbations of previous chronic injuries or prevent osteoarthritis (painful wear and tear) of the joints.
- Hydrate properly.
This may seem obvious, but water or isotonic fluids (like Lucozade Sport) before and after activity is essential. Many don’t drink enough water daily, and this combined with sweating, can lead to dehydration. Losing just 5% of the water content in your body can negatively affect your muscle strength, reaction time, speed and movement. When sweating, we lose body salts which need to be replaced as well; otherwise muscles may cramp. Replacing these salts with Isotonic fluids can help in these situations.
- Don’t forget to stretch.
However boring these exercises may seem, don’t underestimate their importance. Muscles and tendons function well at an optimal length. So, when you start exercising it is important to start gently and build up for the muscular structures to reach that length. Tight muscle, typically the hamstring and calf muscles pulled too quickly can lead to tears.
- Warm-up before exercise.
Again, this may sound obvious but is often overlooked. Before exercising our muscles, ligaments and tendons are cold. Without warming them up, too much explosive activity increases the blood flow too quickly, which can lead to tears and ultimately pain. Warming down is also important after exercise to relax the muscle, allowing blood flow to gently return to normal.
- Check your footwear.
When was the last time you changed your running shoes? No matter what distances you run or how much activity you do, your shoes will eventually wear out and stop providing support. This lack of support, combined with any abnormal anatomy or biomechanics issues, can cause significant problems which can translate from foot issues all the way up to the knee, hip and even the back. Be mindful of how long you have had your trainers for and check them for signs of wear. It may even worth considering different shoe wear for different surfaces or conditions.
- Be realistic about competitiveness.
Like it or not, this affects all of us at some point. Respect your age and your ability. Try to avoid ‘racing’ someone half your age! It is a fact of life that the body’s ability to repair itself decreases with age.
- Build up your intensity gradually.
If you are ‘cramming it’ at the weekend, it is easy to do too much too quickly. Think about recovery and work on building up your activity over time. Give yourself appropriate periods of rest, but perhaps better still, try and fit one or two sessions in during the week to avoid cramming lots of activities at the weekend.
Most importantly stay safe, have fun and enjoy your sporting activity – it’s not meant to be a punishment!