Pickup game of basketball this Saturday? Sure! Eighteen holes of golf next weekend? Love to! How about a 5k to raise money for a good cause? Sign me up! Does this scenario sound familiar? Not much exercise during the week—no time!—but strenuous physical activity on the weekends? If so, you’re a “weekend warrior.” Unfortunately, weekend warriors are not always in the best shape because of their lack of regular exercise, and sudden physical activity on the weekends can lead to injury. The most common ailments seen by doctors? Tennis elbow, ankle sprain, groin pull, shin splints, hamstring strain and ACL tear.
Sometimes preventing common sports injuries is beyond our control, but many injuries can be prevented. First, always warm up before engaging in physical activity. It increases blood flow to the muscles and increases flexibility, which can ward off strains and sprains. Next, try to do some training in the weeks leading up to your participation if possible. Work the relevant muscle groups so they aren’t shocked when they are called into action. Lastly, stop when you start feeling fatigued. Often injuries occur when you are too tired to perform your activity safely or correctly. (You don’t want to tear your ACL on the last run of the day while skiing because you’ve really had enough and should have stopped sooner.)
If you do hurt yourself, don’t try to push through the pain. Immediately stop what you are doing and apply the R.I.C.E. principal: Rest the injured area to allow for healing. Ice the area for 10-20 minutes throughout the day to manage swelling and decrease pain. Apply Compression to the area (wrap with an Ace bandage) and Elevate above the level of the heart to prevent and decrease swelling.