What are common injuries of the weekend warrior?
Spring has sprung, and that means the start of the recreational sports season for Chicagoans. While exercise is an important and vital part of life, jumping right into activities that we are not trained for often leads to injury. Many of us jump right back into our activities at the same level of where we left off last summer, forgetting that we have been house bound for the last five months. This is the phenomenon often known as the “weekend warrior” and the associated injuries. But there are some simple tips to keep in mind in order to remain uninjured and healthy as the urge to get out there and get active approaches.
There are many specific injuries that occur in the “weekend warrior”, the most common of these being ankle sprain, groin strain, hamstring strain, shin splints, ACL tear, and epicondylitis (tennis elbow or golf elbow). It is important to know how to generally prevent some of these injuries and also when it is time to seek medical attention.
Most importantly, start exercising the muscle groups you will be using for the specific activity in the few weeks prior to the activity. For example, if you are planning on joining a softball league, start brisk walking and/or jogging daily for at least 2-3 weeks prior to the first practice or game. This allows the muscle groups to stretch, strengthen and regain blood flow that has decreased over the winter months. Additionally, pre-activity and pre-workout warm-ups are vital to prevent injury. This again will help strengthen, stretch and increase blood flow to the muscles, tendons and ligaments, helping to prevent injury.
Another important tip to injury prevention is to stop when you are fatigued. Once fatigue hits, the protective mechanisms in the body that help protect your muscles and joints tend to fail and this increases the risk of injury. It is important to remember that it will take time to regain the same stamina and strength that you had last season.
Most of these injuries, if mild, can be treated with rest, ice, elevation, and over-the-counter pain medication, if needed. However, some injuries are more severe and require further medical attention. If there is significant swelling, bruising, inability to bear weight or deformity, seek medical attention right away. Some less severe, but still important injuries, will greatly benefit from conservative care treatment, such as chiropractic and/or physical therapy. Chiropractic and physical therapy are very beneficial in allowing for faster healing times as well as aid in the prevention of future injury.
So get out there this spring/summer, just make sure to take care of yourself!