There’s no denying that being physically active is good for your health. But if you have a sedentary 9-5 job all week long and then go all out exercising on the weekend, you may wind up being sidelined by an injury.
The term “weekend warrior” is often used to describe someone who is not very physically active on a regular basis but then goes hard during the weekend. Often these people were athletic before they had the responsibilities of a full-time desk job and still enjoy a weekend game of football with their buddies, a round of tennis with their spouse or a pick-up game of hoops at the park.
If this describes you, you may feel like your body can still handle the demands of your athletic interests and competitive streak. But if you’re not careful, you may find yourself with muscle soreness, joint pain or more serious injuries before Monday rolls around.
Here are some tips to enjoy your weekend activities more safely:
Maintain a healthy weight. The more you weigh, the more stress there is on your joints.
Be more active throughout the week. Even if you can’t get in a regular workout, make an effort to be as active as possible. Stand instead of sitting when possible. Take the stairs, walk during your lunch hour or do a few squats at your desk.
Condition your body. If you regularly play a particular sport or engage in a specific activity on the weekend, take time to improve the strength of the muscles required for the activity. This will help you avoid injury.
Use proper technique. When you’ve been out of the game for a while, it’s easy to develop bad habits. Spend some time with a coach or trainer to learn proper technique and form so you’re less likely to get injured.
Warm up. Tight muscles are more prone to injury. Spend about 10 minutes before you begin warming up with a light activity and stretching.
Cool down. When you’re finished with your sport or activity, spend another 10 minutes cooling down. Gradually let your heart rate recover by reducing the intensity of your activity and do some stretches to increase flexibility while your muscles are warm.
Be realistic. Even if you were a star soccer player in college, your body is not the same as it once was. Respect your limits and accept that it’s better to adapt your activity to what your body can do at this stage of your life rather than pushing yourself too hard and paying the price.
Listen to your body. If you feel pain, crank it down a notch or take a rest. Pain is your body’s way of telling you it needs a break. If you ignore the signals, you set yourself up for injury.