On weekdays, your best exercise intentions get waylaid – business meetings, looming deadlines and kids’ homework all conspire to keep you glued to your chair all week. But come weekend, you’re raring to go. You remember a time when you could jump from one sport to another with no hint of a strain, sprain or even a muscle twitch. If you could do it then, why not now?
Well… your brain may tell you you’re still 19 but your 40-year-old ankles and hamstrings tell a different story. Moreover, a sedentary lifestyle does not set you up well for sudden bursts of activity. After having been complacent all week, your muscles protest loudly when you unleash yourself over the weekend, leaving you in a huddled heap of pain. Hear that pop, crackle and snap?
A common mistake most weekend warriors make is getting out there and doing too much too soon. After all, how could you turn down that challenge squash match against your old high school buddy or resist the invite to participate in a rambunctious game of football?
You? Turn down a sporting challenge? Never!
If that describes you, maybe it is time for a reality check.
Statistics show that most weekend warriors sustain injuries the first day itself and that blows the whole weekend off. And half of the next week too. That can then act as a major deterrent to engaging in any physical activity at all the following days, setting you up for an endless cycle of inactivity and injury.
Here’s a list of Dos and Don’t to make sure you’re the best weekend warrior you can be:
Do take time to warm up and cool down
The main activity is the fun part and you can’t wait to get into the thick of things but diving right in without warming can have painful consequences – from pulled muscles and torn ligaments to severe cramps and other sports injuries. Cooling down is just as important. It helps your muscles relax and allows your heart rate to recover.
Don’t plan back to back activity blocks
A better plan is to break your sessions into smaller, more frequent increments, gradually increase the intensity and duration of your physical activity and focus on improving your flexibility, strength and aerobic conditioning.
Do Exercise and Condition during the week
Conditioning, stretching and strengthening your muscles through the week will help prime them for a weekend of intense activity. Start small and build up slowly. Scheduling these weekday workouts every other day allows for all-important rest and recovery time, so you won’t burn out. Got a game of basketball planned for the weekend? Condition your muscles by doing single-leg lunges and squats to strengthen your knees, hamstrings and quadriceps. Accepted a challenge tennis match? Doing planks on weekdays, can help develop and condition important shoulder and core muscles.
Do Tape it up
Kinesiology tape, like SpiderTech Tapes, offers the weekend warrior a wide range of benefits. It enhances performance by boosting blood flow and lymph drainage, reduces swelling in joints and provides much-needed muscle support without affecting your full range of movement. In other words, it holds you together and runs interference on pain so you can do more and hurt less without the drawbacks of over-the counter pain relievers that can be hard on your liver.
Do Mix things up every now and then
Focusing on only one sport or one type of workout overworks one set of muscles and joints, leaving you more prone to overuse injury. Cross training is a great way to give some muscle groups a workout while letting other muscle groups recover from the previous day’s workout. If you’re an avid basketball player, try swimming, aqua jogging or cycling for variety.
Don’t let your ego get in the way
Know and accept your limits. Attempting to run a marathon or competing in a cross-country skiing tournament without any prior conditioning can get you in a whole lot of trouble. If you aspire to participate in competitive activities, even if only occasionally, you will have to get off that chair on weekdays and keep exercising to strengthen your muscles and joints, increase your endurance and build your stamina.
Do Watch your weight and Get enough rest
Excess weight puts additional stress on weight-bearing joints, especially the knees. Being just 10 lbs overweight increases the force on the knees by 30 to 60 pounds with each step! It’s no wonder that knee pain is the single most common weekend warrior injury. Muscles also need some down time to recover. The older you are, the more time they need. By giving your muscles the rest they need between workouts and activities, you will allow them to get stronger, which can help reduce potential injuries.
Sometimes injuries happen; Don’t be a hero
The best conditioning plans and precautionary measures cannot prevent every injury. If you are injured, don’t be a hero and just wait for it to get better on its own. Be proactive. Tending to mild sprains, stiffness and muscle aches will help you prevent more serious problems down the road.
When you are injured, a kinesiology tape can be your best friend. Throw it in your gym bag or carry it with you when you go on your weekend forays. It turns down the volume on pain and allows your muscles to take a brief vacation so they can come back re-energized and ready for the next round. We, of course recommend SpiderTech, as it’s easy to use and the precut applications let you target specific body parts, saving the time and expense of visiting a medical professional.
Now get out there and get active!
Diana D’Souza is a full-time freelance content writer and health enthusiast with an insatiable love for travel and watersports. In between writing for clients on topics that range from health, travel, water-sports and interior designing, she is working on her soon-to-be launched writing blog, ‘Creative Ink Drops’.