by Elizabeth Phinney, RI
“Weekend Warriors” are people who exercise on the weekends as their workday lives are too overwhelming to take the time to exercise. For a few hours over the weekend they try to get in a week’s worth of exercise. Some are successful – most are not. The majority of people end up injured, pure and simple. The stress they are putting on their bodies and the stamina they are sucking from it eventually collide and the result is typically injury to a joint or torn fibrous tissue of some sort.
With summertime upon us and the urgency to get outside and do those summer sports, it is important to recognize that your body is not used to an intense workout For example, if you haven’t played tennis since last Labor Day, you need to be a little gentle before you go out there and play 2 to 3 sets. Here are a few tips you should know so that the “Weekend Warrior” syndrome doesn’t happen to you:
1. Prepare your body specifically for the sport you are playing:
All sports pretty much require strong legs, so you want to do leg exercises that will strengthen not just the thigh, but the calves as well; depending on the sport. Sports on your toes need calf strengthening (bicycling, tennis, volleyball). Sports that require lateral movements (movements from side to side) need outer and inner thigh strengthening (tennis, roller blading).
If you are playing racket sports, your shoulders, elbows and wrists need to be prepared. Do some strengthening to the surrounding muscles of the arm to help support the joints. Tennis elbow is not just from tennis. Stronger forearms, biceps and triceps will help to offset the dramatic stress to the elbow that most racket sports enlist.
Golf is a huge summer sport which most do not feel demands too much of the body. On the contrary, golf incorporates virtually every muscle group of the body. The secret to golf is in the flexibility of the torso and suppleness of the shoulders and arms. Golf is about leverage and you need flexibility for that.
2. Don’t forget to hydrate throughout your activity. Because of warmer temperatures in the summertime, our body’s cooling system known as sweat is much more active. The body releases moisture and brings it to the skin’s surface to cool off the skin. If there is not enough water in the body the dehydration process begins and the body will find the water somewhere – first stop being the muscular system. This causes your muscles to stiffen up which can cause unnecessary injury. So before, during and after your activity, hydrate – Hydrate!
3. Stretching is key. Studies have shown that stretching before exercising does not prevent injury. However, it is the stretching AFTER the sport that makes it so that you can play again the next day. Every muscle group that is involved in your sport should have static stretching for at least 30 seconds for each stretch when you are done playing. Just do it and make it a habit.
The main thing to remember with any seasonal sport or activity in general is that you are taking from the body – you are demanding your body to perform in a certain way and your body is obliging. By following these three tips, you are helping to fulfill what your body needs while you are doing it. And, as a bonus, you are giving back to your body which is always a good thing!