By: Meg Irish
Posted: September 19, 2019
Not all of us are seasoned athletes, training consistently day in and day out because let’s face it, we have busy schedules to keep. For those of us who find other ways to sneak in exercise, we typically fall in the category of a weekend warrior, picking up a game of basketball with friends or participating in a weekend 5K. This category doesn’t necessarily mean you cram exercise in only on the weekend. It refers to a person who participates in physically strenuous activity only a few days of the week, rather than spreading it out evenly throughout the week.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the recommendations for physical activity for adults vary depending upon activity level. At least two and half hours per week is recommended for moderate activity such as walking, bicycling, or gardening. For more vigorous activity such as swimming, running, or aerobic dancing, at least an hour and half per week is recommended.
Due to long periods of inactivity intermingled with bursts of high activity, the weekend warrior athlete tends to be more prone to injury. Predisposing injury factors include poor fitness base, older age, intermittent participation, increased weight, and medical comorbidities. Weekend warriors typically experience acute injuries such as an ankle sprain or muscle strain, tendinitis, and ACL or meniscus tears. These often occur because the athlete experiences greater stress over a shorter period of time compared to those who exercise regularly.
Dr. Lara Quinlan frequently sees patients with weekend warrior injuries. “The worst thing people do with ankle sprains is to not treat them. This leads to improper healing, inability to regain strength, proprioception, and reoccurrence injury,” said Lara Quinlan, MD, CAQSM. If left untreated, the patient loses their proprioceptive function, the sense of knowing the body’s relative position in space. The proprioceptive sensory receptors relay information to the brain about large and subtle shifts in movement. Without it, we would not be able to balance, dance, run, or walk on uneven surfaces.
For those of us who do not exercise regularly, it is important to plan ahead in order to avoid sports related injuries. For those of an older age, ease into activity and gradually increase intensity level. The 10 percent rule is a great rule of thumb, which sets a limit on increasing weekly training of distance, weight lifting, or length of exercise session by no more than 10 percent per week in order to prevent injury.
Additionally, Dr. Quinlan recommends dynamic stretching and static stretching, which has been shown to be an effective way to enhance performance and prevent injury. Dynamic stretching is a movement-based stretching and is used prior to working out. Stretching exercises include high knees, lunges, and arm swings. Following a workout, static stretching is appropriate. These are stretches held in a challenging position for 10 to 30 seconds. Static stretching exercises include triceps stretch, hamstring stretch, or seated butterfly stretch.
The American Heart Association recommends regular exercise most days of the week. If you tend to workout only on the weekend, try and schedule time mid-week for light aerobic activity. Mix it up, incorporate more than one type of activity into your exercise routine. Cross-training has shown to have fewer injuries than those who only focus on one activity. Lastly, listen to your body. If muscles become sore or pain continues for more than a few hours, follow the RICE method: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
Although prevention is the best treatment, it is not uncommon for any athlete to experience a fitness-related injury. Dependent on the type of injury and severity, a sports medicine specialist may utilize these treatments.
- Physical Therapy
- Manual Therapies
- Foam Rolling
- Gait Analysis
- Injections – treat inflammation of a specific joint or tendon
- Regenerative Biologics – improve healing of injured muscles, tendons, and joints
- Medications – Tylenol (safest around when properly dosed), Motrin, Aleve
With all sports related injuries, the road to recovery is dependent on the type and severity of the injury. A sports medicine specialist can help guide you by providing the best treatment plan for your specific injury. Patients who see the greatest success cross train appropriately, attend physical therapy as directed, immobilize the area with braces, splints, or casts as needed, and ease into new activities. Most injuries can be prevented by following a few simple steps such as proper hydration, stretching, warming up, proper equipment, and adding variety to your exercise routine.
About Dr. Lara Quinlan
Dr. Lara Quinlan is fellowship trained in Sports Medicine, and board certified in Family Medicine and Sports Medicine. Her special skills include ultrasound guided musculoskeletal injections, concussion management, casting/splinting/bracing, basic fracture management, female athlete’s health concerns, and sports nutrition. As a specialist in Sports Medicine, she is thoroughly trained in caring for all athletes and patients of all ages with musculoskeletal related issues, acute injuries, and educating the public about primary care sports medicine.
Dr. Quinlan practices at TPMG Orthopedics in Newport News and Williamsburg.