While most physical therapists would never fault anyone for getting exercise, most PTs would also agree that weekend warriors should be particularly cautious as the sporadic nature of their workout schedule puts them at increased risk of getting injured.
Days of inactivity, followed by sudden bursts of activity over a day or two isn’t ideal. By putting greater stress on the body over a shorter period, weekend warriors should be aware that they’re putting themselves at greater risk of acute injuries, such as strains, sprains or worse.
The reason for this is because inactivity throughout the week can lead to general deconditioning of the body including muscle tightness and imbalances, along with reduced endurance and cardiovascular fitness. A more consistent workout schedule can combat such deconditioning.
However, if you truly struggle to find time to exercise on a consistent basis throughout the work week, therefore cramming most activity into just a couple of days, we offer the following tips for avoiding injury.
Space It Out – Rather than packing your weekly exercise minutes into two back-to-back days at the end of the week, consider spacing these days out. This can help you avoid some of the deconditioning effects mentioned above.
Warm Up, Cool Down – When the weekend arrives and it comes time to take the field, hit the trails, or tee off for 18, always warm up first. Take 5 to 10 minutes for some light resistance and cardio exercises to get the blood flowing. And after you’re done, cool down with some stretching. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout.
Moderate Your Intensity – When you’re packing your workouts into just a couple days a week, don’t overdo it. As you’re not exercising as consistently, stay on the safe side by pulling back slightly on your intensity.
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, don’t use that as an excuse to be completely sedentary. Take advantage of brief moments during the week to move around, stretch, and maybe even do some light exercising. Take the stairs, stretch during your breaks, stand at your desk, walk during meetings or after work, and maybe even fit 10 minutes of at-home resistance training into your evenings.
Listen to Your Body – Always know your limits. And, if you feel aches and pains or suspect possible injury, see a medical professional. Don’t try to power through discomfort just so you can get through the weekend.