Riley Hale, MD, is an orthopedic surgeon at Banner Health Clinic in Greeley, CO. For more information on this topic, talk with your doctor or call Dr. Hale’s office at (970) 810-0020.
Question: I’m a “weekend warrior” who enjoys sports during my days off. How can I participate in the things I love and stay injury-free?
Answer: Being active is so important to your overall health, but people who sit at desks during the week and then participate in strenuous activity on weekends increase their risk for injury. Follow these steps to keep yourself healthy and enjoying your favorite activities:
- Spend 30 minutes most days doing some exercise. A brisk walk, a short run, a hike or time on a bicycle can help condition your body for more intense weekend activities. Cross-training exercises also build strength and endurance.
- When trying a new sport on the weekend, give yourself time to learn proper technique and form before going full speed.
- Seek the advice of a trainer or coach who can give you safe strategies to master your sport or activity of interest.
- Overuse injuries are most common among runners, swimmers, tennis enthusiasts and the like. Listen to your body and lower your intensity or duration if you’re feeling tired or sore.
- Engage in frequent and varied workouts of shorter duration rather than spending hours doing the same thing. Changing up your routine and exercising for shorter periods gives individual muscle groups more time to recover.
- Consult your physician before starting any new physical activity, and ask how diet and nutrition can enhance your performance.
- Stay properly hydrated before, during and after physical activity. Drinking enough water helps you avoid cramping and other discomfort, and keeps your brain sharp.
- Use the proper equipment. If you’re a runner, for example, get fitted for shoes that support your stride.
- Spend at least 10 minutes warming up and doing gentle stretching before any strenuous activity, and make sure to cool down and stretch again when you’ve finished.