Avoiding the weekend warrior syndrome – Dr. Bohsali
Avoiding The Weekend Warrior Syndrome by Dr. Bohsali
While 80 percent of all health care visits nationally are for musculoskeletal injuries, there are precautions people can take to avoid fractures, sprains and similar injuries.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons points to statistics showing more than 18.3 million fractures are treated annually, along with 17.1 million sprains and strains, and 17.7 million other musculoskeletal injuries.
Many times, these injuries happen to “weekend warriors,” individuals in their 30s, 40s or 50s who are active on the weekends in various sports.
They remain active, but because of other commitments during the normal work week, they compress sports activities into the weekend and end up putting their body through a high level of stress, whether lifting weights, doing Zumba, running, playing tennis, basketball or soccer. When we compress all that activity into a two-day period, we increase the risk of injury whether it is a sprain, strain or stress fracture.
But there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. A balanced fitness program that combines cardiovascular exercise, strength training and flexibility is key, as well as starting out slow and building up your intensity over time.
For any type of exercise, stretching is essential not only before you train, but afterward. You want to increase blood supply to your muscles to ensure they are warm before starting a physical activity because research shows that cold muscles are more susceptible to injury. After your exercise session, you need to restore your muscles to their normal state and reduce persistent trauma.
Instead of starting a weightlifting regimen right away, walk for five minutes to increase your heart rate and metabolism. If you plan to run, stretch your lower and upper body parts as well.
REST AND MODERATION IS KEY
As part of your weekly routine, be sure to give your body time to rest. If you are running more than 5-10 miles per week, you should take a 24-hour period to rest in between running sessions.
The solution is to do everything in moderation. Cut back on running and add in weight training or another cross training activity to keep you musculoskeletal structure strong and avoid injuries such as stress fractures.
WEARING THE RIGHT SHOES
Wear the appropriate shoes for the sport as well. If you are a runner, it is critical that you replace your shoes in a timely fashion. If you are running 20 to 30 miles a week, you should change your shoes every three months and if you run five to 10 miles a week you should change them every six months. Always check the tread wear on your shoes before a run to reduce your risk of injury.
Find a shoe that fits comfortably and takes into account the shape of your foot. If you experience swelling in your knee or ankle when running, wearing a compression sleeve or compression sock may help.
WHEN TO SEEK HELP
If you suffer from an injury and your muscle soreness or joint pain lasts more than five to seven days despite rest, anti-inflammatory medicine or ice and heat, then you should contact your primary care doctor and obtain a referral to an orthopedist. Or, you can also contact an orthopedist directly if your health plan allows.
Taking anti-inflammatory medication after exercising if you are sore is fine, but avoid taking anything prior to the activity in an attempt to pre-empt an injury. Doing so can affect your immune system’s anti-inflammatory response and can actually put you at more risk for an injury.
We all have busy lives, and we all want to stay active, but there are ways to find that balance while also staying injury-free. A work-out during the week will help and other moderate activity, like walking your dog or choosing the stairs instead of the elevator, can go a long way to avoid the “weekend warrior syndrome.”
Kamal I. Bohsali, MD, is a fellowship trained, board-certified orthopedic surgeon with Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute specializing in shoulder and elbow reconstruction, and sports medicine. He is on the Baptist Medical Center Beaches campus in Medical Office Building C, 1577 Roberts Drive, Suite 225, Jacksonville Beach and can be reached at (904) 241-1204.