Do you find yourself unable to exercise between the business of a typical work week and family responsibilities, but get after it with exercise and recreation during the weekend? As with many, you are the typical “weekend warrior”.
Exercise and activity are important factors for our physical and mental health, however, if you find your performance levels dropping and are experiencing occasional aches and pains it may be time to be cautious about the sporadic nature of your workout schedule as these may be signs of a greater risk of injury.
With extended days of downtime followed by sudden bursts of activity over a day or two, the body may not be able to condition to the activity and develop injuries such as sprains, strains, or worse. This risk gets particularly higher with high intense workouts or recreation. During the week inactivity can lead to a general deconditioning of the body that may include muscle tightness, strength imbalances, or reduced endurance and cardiovascular fitness. Improving your consistency with activity or adjusting your intensity can aid in combating injury risks.
If the weekend is the only time you can be active, please do it! Exercise is important. Here are a few tips:
Space It Out – If possible, consider changing your weekly exercise routine from back-to-back days at the end of the week to adding a day or two in between. A recovery day will allow your tissue to adequately adapt and be ready for the next workout.
Warm Up, Cool Down – Current research shows injury risk lowers with a proper warmup. Take 5 to 10 minutes for some light resistance and cardio exercises to get the blood flowing prior to high level recreational/competitive activity or begin your hike or run by easing into the activity as well as cooling down at lower speeds. If you find stretching helpful, post activity stretching is great for a cool down as well.
Temper Your Intensity –If you’re experiencing continued or limiting soreness with back to back workouts, stay on the safe side by pulling back slightly and lessening your intensity on your follow up day.
Mix It Up – Try not to fill your weekends with the same activities. Mix it up, perhaps focusing on cardio one weekend and strength another – or a variation thereof. This helps ensure your entire body remains balanced, reducing your chances of injury.
Stay Active During the Week – Even if you don’t have time to hit the gym during the week, you can still sneak in some “mini exercise”. Capitalize on these brief moments during the week to move around, stretch, and maybe even do strengthening. Examples: Take the stairs, stretch during your breaks, perform 5-10 squats at your desk, walk during breaks, and maybe even fit in 10 minutes of at-home resistance training into your evenings.
Listen to Your Body – Always know your limits. If you feel aches and pains or suspect possible injury, consult a medical professional, such as your Alpine physical therapist! Don’t try to power through discomfort just so you can get through the weekend. We are happy to help.