Are you at risk for injury by only working out on weekends?
Does your daily exercise routine consist of running from meeting to meeting in your office or sprinting to catch your train?
Perhaps you plan to catch up on your fitness goals over the weekend, but you wince at the prospect of pickup basketball games with your buddies because of your lack of activity during the week.
Being this so-called “weekend warrior” can cause injuries if you’re not careful.
“When you don’t participate in a sport or activity year round, it’s important to consult with your physician before beginning,” says Dr. Steven Chudik, sports medicine specialist and orthopedic surgeon at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill. “Also, always warm up five to 10 minutes with dynamic stretching exercises before the activity, and never play or exercise beyond the level at which you feel comfortable.”
Dr. Chudik offers the following tips based on these popular fall and winter sports:
Basketball is a fast-paced sport regardless of whether you play full court or half court – legs, knees and heart are all put to the test with sudden start-stop and pivot movements, jumps and running. That means basketball isn’t a game for someone out of shape.
To play this game, “weekend warriors” should be exercising daily for at least 30 minutes doing aerobic, core and lower extremity flexibility strengthening exercises. They also should consider incorporating low-level plyometric exercises during their game season as research shows the exercises can help improve performance and jumps.
With any exercise program, it’s very important to follow precautions and maintain proper form. This is especially important with plyometrics because they are impact exercises that may cause injury if done incorrectly.
To minimize injury:
- Athletes should be well conditioned with a high level of leg strength.
- Warm-up thoroughly before starting if not done after a game or practice.
- Start slowly with small jumps and gradually build.
- Land softly to absorb the shock.
- Perform exercises on cushioned surfaces and wear shoes with plenty of cushioning.
- Allow rest time between workouts.
- Stop immediately if there’s any pain.
For golfers, research shows a dynamic stretch warm-up before playing can help increase club head speed and ball speed, resulting in a straighter swing path and better impact points on the ball.
Furthermore, adding 10 minutes of resistance training to warm-up can help golfers increase their drive distance, smash factor and number of consistent ball strikes.
I always tell my patients who play golf to warm up before the first tee if they want to lower their score. It doesn’t make any sense to warm up as you play because you won’t be playing at your best.
Tennis, like basketball, is a sport that puts a lot of stress on the lower body with the varied leg movements needed to get into position and the quick spurts to return a serve or volley.
Enthusiasts should exercise daily throughout the year at least 30 minutes a day, doing a combination of aerobic, core and lower extremity flexibility and strengthening exercises. They also should consider incorporating plyometric exercises during their game season.
Tennis players also have a high risk for overuse shoulder and elbow injuries from repetitive overhead forces and torques from serving and volleying.
Because tennis can be played indoors and out, it’s important to properly condition year round to maintain performance and minimize the risk for injury. A daily exercise also should include specific exercises for the shoulder and elbow to help increase strength and endurance of the dynamic (muscular) stabilizers.
As we get older, it’s important to do at least 15 minutes of regular exercises daily to stay in shape. It makes ‘weekend warrior’ activities easier and less likely to cause an injury. Also, with any exercise program, it is essential to maintain proper techniques during warm-ups to receive the maximum benefits and prevent injury.
About the Author
Lisa Parro, health enews contributor, is manager of content strategy for Advocate Aurora Health. A former journalist, Lisa has been in health care public relations since 2008 and has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. She and her family live in Chicago’s western suburbs.