We all lead busy lives, and for some of us it can be difficult to get in the amount of physical activity we need during the week. However, cramming it all into our days off and becoming a “weekend warrior” can be problematic, especially as it relates to injuries.
It’s also common for adults to participate in adult leagues, like kickball, volleyball, softball, etc., but get no other exercise in during the week. This can certainly increase your chances of injury, because your body isn’t as prepared for the activity as it should be. Since it’s a casual league, you may not feel the need to train. However, while you don’t need to train like an athlete on the high school, college, or professional levels, you do still need to exercise regularly to get your body ready for the sport.
Do you get a nagging pain in a certain area after your weekly run or activity of choice? That means your body is trying to tell you something--listen to it! With the right training and regular exercise, you could improve those nagging pains and prevent a more serious injury down the road.
Try these tips to reduce your chance of suffering from a common sports injury when you’re out doing your favorite activities.
1. Work on your balance and agility.
Balance and agility are critical to preventing falls and other traumatic injuries sustained during sports and athletic activity. Agility drills can help can help with coordination and balance. Other activities that can improve coordination include jump rope and accelerating sprints. You can even work on balance anytime you’re standing, like when you are brushing your teeth in the morning. Stand on one leg at a time and switch midway through, trying to retain your balance the whole time. You should find that you get better at it over time.
2. Work on the muscles you use the most.
If you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to working out, you need to make the time you do put in count. Whether your weekend activity is running, kickball, tennis, or any other activity, there are probably some muscles that you use more than others. Overall fitness is ideal, but you should especially work on strengthening the muscle groups you use the most. For example, if you like to participate in 5k runs on the weekends, you aren’t going to get as much of a benefit from a workout that focuses on the upper body. In particular, hamstring and ankle injuries tend to be common among weekend warriors, but if your activity involves upper body movements, as with tennis or golf, you should include upper body strengthening exercises as well.
3. Learn how to fall correctly.
A lot of upper body sports injuries among weekend warriors occur due to a fall onto an outstretched arm. For a lot of us, our natural instinct when falling is to put one or both of our arms out to break the fall. However, that means that your arm takes on a great deal of the impact from the fall. Depending on how you fall, that could lead to an elbow injury or a wrist injury. Instead, try to position yourself to roll by tucking your chin into your chest if you feel yourself falling, and try to relax yourself. The rolling motion will lessen the force of impact on one particular area. If you have access to a gym with a padded floor, you can even practice falling to the floor to train your body to falling correctly.
4. Wear the right protective gear.
If you participate in an activity that requires protective gear, wear it--even if you are just playing casually. This gear was designed to keep you safe and reduce injuries. Proper gear also includes proper attire and footwear. You should be wearing clothing designed for athletic activity and properly-fitted shoes that are intended for the type of activity you are doing. Also, if you had a previous injury, like an ankle or knee injury, wear a brace while doing any sort of athletic activity. A brace will provide more support to the area and reduce your chance of reinjury.
5. Don’t overdo it--take your time.
Above all else, don’t try to do more than you are prepared for. If you are worn out or feeling pain from a particular activity, take a break. Remember, even if you were athletic when you were younger, you probably cannot perform at the same levels as you used to if you haven’t kept up with a regular exercise routine. If you only have time for activity a couple of days a week, you can’t expect to cram in the same amount of work as a person who exercises 5 days a week.
It’s easy to fall into the routine of being a weekend warrior when you have so much going on during the weekdays. Try to get in activity as much as you can, even if it’s just for 10 minutes, and don’t push yourself too hard. Think about it this way--would you rather work on setting aside some time to exercise during the week, or spend weeks in a cast or brace because you hurt yourself?