How to be an injury-free weekend warrior
Published: September 11, 2023
Are you a weekend warrior?
Now before you blurt out an answer let’s first establish just what this term defines.
And of all the weekend warrior definitions I’ve culled through I believe the most thorough one comes from the Merriam-Webster dictionary, which defines the weekend warrior as, “A person who participates in a usually physically strenuous activity only on weekends or part-time.”
As you can see this definition covers much more ground than the majority of definitions which focus solely on weekend physical activity.
And based on current data, about 2% to 4% of American’s exercise patterns fall within the confines of this particular weekend warrior definition.
This data also indicates that weekend warriors participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise distributed within a couple sessions per week.
Weekend warriors can be found on softball fields, in weight rooms, along jogging tracks, on tennis and pickle ball courts and out on our local bicycling trails.
And let’s face it, getting in those couple workouts a week is a whole lot better than nothing at all yet infrequent physical activity patterns present weekend warriors with a couple of problems.
Unfortunately, when the majority of one’s waking time is predominantly inactive, the body adapts to a sedentary activity level.
Thus, when episodic spurts of activity are introduced, well, the body doesn’t always respond––nor adapt––favorably.
And the potential negative effects that sporadic physical activity can have on the body becomes even more pronounced as we age.
I often tell clients, “You may have been able to pull those kinds of workouts out of your butt back in your 20s and 30s, but when you’re 50+ the old bod just doesn’t heal, recover and adapt the way it used to.”
Plain and simple, it’s much easier to incur injuries when employing the weekend warrior strategy––especially for you over-40 weekend warriors.
And such injuries generally fall into two camps: Those that result from a single traumatic event (sprains, breaks, tears and pulls) and those related to overuse (achilles tendonitis, shin splints, tennis elbow and compartment syndrome).
Now let’s go back my initial weekend warrior question.
If you answered ‘yes’ then it’s imperative you have a common sense protocol in place that will help to prevent you from incurring workout related injuries.
With that in mind here’s four key tenants to abide by in order to remain a healthy and injury-free weekend warrior.
Warm-ups increase blood flow and oxygenation throughout the body, raising your body temperature. And an increase in body temperature promotes increased range of motion in muscles, tendons, and ligaments. What’s more, by gradually raising your heart rate you’ll minimize heart stress during your main exercise session, allowing for a safer workout. Finally, when the body is warm and limber, strained or pulled muscles become less of a potentiality.
2. Keep hydrated
Hydration helps the heart more easily pump blood, which help muscles work more efficiently. Generally, water is all that’s needed but…longer and/or high intensity workouts could dictate a sports drink be used. They can provide calories, potassium, and electrolytes to help you perform well longer - and safer.
3. Differentiate between good and bad pain
Good pain is usually that burning pain felt while performing an exercise. But be cognizant of bad pains: sharp pains that hinder moving a body part; pains in post-operative areas; pains that cause swelling; pains that persist after several days of rest, ice and/or over the counter anti-inflammatory medications; pains that worsen; pains that involves pressure and bruising and pains that causes nausea and/or vomiting.
4. Fully recover between activity sessions
Intense exercise can cause micro tears in muscle fibers, which actually allows them to build back stronger. But recovery is necessary for that strengthen process to be successful. To further accentuate this recovery process you can employ foam rollers, massage balls, resistance bands, or a professional masseuse. You can also do static stretching where you hold each stretch for at least 15 seconds.
As you can see, the keys to being a successful weekend warrior simply entail the employment of several common sense measures and the resolve to listen to your body.
Add them to your routine and you just might keep that weekend warrior body in prime time shape.