Packing in a rigorous workout regime for the weekend is not the best way to reap benefits from exercising. It makes you prone to injuries. A 35-year old middle level employee does not manage to get time to engage in any sports or physical exercise from Monday to Friday. He packs everything for the weekend and as soon as weekend steps in, he goes for a good three hours of high-intensity football. Explaining this fast-growing lifestyle trend of ‘weekend warriors’, Dr. Gaurav Gupta, Consultant, Arthroscopy and Sports Orthopaedics at Fortis Hospital Anandapur, Kolkata alerts, “There is a rising percentage of weekend warrior injuries we come across in our day-to-day clinical practice that was hardly the case around five years back. It is alarming.”
A big chunk of people are sedentary. They do not exercise much or do not get the time to exercise every day. They tend to make their weekends full of strenuous activities. These are exactly who our weekend warriors are. Dr Gupta clarifies, “These are not only young people but are typically in the age-group ranging from late 20s till their mid or late 40s. They are particularly those people, who at one point in their lives, were physically very active, as in their teens and early 20s, but due to demands from jobs or other corners have not been able to keep up an active lifestyle. So, they try to fill up weekends with high levels of activity.”
Dr Gupta has shared the major types of injuries that the weekend warriors can face because of the sudden spurt in their physical exercise regimens. “Since their bodies are not conditioned to any sport or physical exercise all through the working week, they are highly vulnerable to injuries like Rotator Cuff injuries in the shoulder, Ankle Sprains or Ankle ligament injuries. These people tend to twist their knees and get knee ligament injuries and knee meniscus tears. Other similar strains and ligament injuries like hamstring injuries, calf injuries and quadriceps injuries are also pretty common among them,” cautions the arthroscopic surgeon.
Dr Gupta lists out key advice that can help this new tribe to avoid incurring and even worsening of injuries.
One should avoid being a weekend warrior. Reserving all types of sports and exercise for the weekend is not right. It is better to spread the activity out a bit during the first five days of the week. Get on with an everyday exercise programme. The weekday exercise regime should also include stretching to maintain flexibility and aerobic exercises to keep the heart and lung healthy.
Exercise couple of days a week
if you cannot take out time on all the five days of the working week. A couple of days during the week will also be sufficient to make up for the deficit. Try exercising alternate days.
Before engaging in any kind of sport or activity, one needs to be well-hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids and ensure that dietary nutritional intake is normal. One should also have sufficient electrolyte levels in the body. A combination of fluids, electrolytes and nutrition keeps your injuries at bay.
Stretch it out
Before going out to play a sport or any other strenuous activity, it is very important to undertake a well-drawn out stretching programme. It should involve major muscle groups like quadriceps muscle groups, hamstrings, calves and back.
Cool it down
A good cool down is also needed for muscles to relax post a workout session. This could be a 10-minute jogging or cycling session as per your comfort levels.
Wear protective gear in accordance with the kind of activity or sport you engage in. It is also important to ensure that one plays the sport on proper surfaces. For example, one should engage in tennis, volleyball or badminton only on a proper court and not on any hard cemented surface which could prove to be very detrimental and end up in unwanted injuries of bone/ligament.
Pain involves no gains
Never play through pain. If you sustain injury and are going through pain, it is important to back off from activity because continuing to play through pain will accelerate injuries.
Go slow initially
Start low and build up slow! For example, if one starts any new activity like playing tennis, one need to start at a low level and gradually build up over the following six to eight weeks. Pacing up can happen once your body is used to staying in the active mode.
Season it up
Weekend warriors tend to ignore their body’s seasoning or conditioning to exercise. You may not be as fit and active in your 30s as you were a decade ago. So play according to your conditions and use proper sporting kits or gear, which can ameliorate injuries. Reducing vulnerability to injuries is key to being able to exercise for the long haul.