Current health recommendations call for 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity every week. Due to busy weekday schedules, many people just can’t get the exercise in during the week. The good news is that if you only get your exercise in on the weekends, you will reap a benefit just by being active as compared to those who remain inactive.
Making up for lost time by exercising excessively may cause sports injuries. Nonprofessional sports injuries are the second most common reason for doctor visits, with the average cost of more than $18 billion a year.
Sprains (stretching or tearing of a ligament) and strains (stretching or tearing of a muscle or tendon) are the most common sports injuries. The areas of the body that seem most susceptible to sprain or strain include the ankle, groin, hamstring and lower back.
How to prevent them?
• Warm up and stretch first.
• Start slowly and increase activity gradually by no more than 10 % per week.
• Spread out your exercise. Do not try to make up for a week’s worth of inactivity in a day or two. Ideally exercise at least three days a week.
• Listen to your body – stop when it hurts, see a doctor if it doesn’t stop hurting.
• Recognize that for most people, what you could do at age 20 is not the same as what you can do at age 50.
• Before starting an exercise program, educate yourself and develop a balanced program, or hire a professional trainer.
In addition to sprains and strains, several other injuries are frequently experienced by the weekend warrior. “Shin splints” present as tenderness, soreness or pain along the inner part of your lower leg., most commonly brought on by running. Additionally, sudden stops or turns can cause a strain or a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of the knee. A tear is usually heralded by a popping sound.
Patellofemoral also causes pain felt in front of your knee, and results from repetitive movement of your kneecap against your thigh bone. Iliotibial band syndrome is the cause of lateral knee pain common in long-distance runners and cyclists. Tennis elbow (epicondylitis) usually presents as pain on the outside of your elbow into your forearm and wrist with pain also occurring when you extend your wrist.
Most sports injuries are mild or moderate and can be treated with the PRICE therapy method.
P – Protect from further injury by using splints, pads, or crutches if necessary.
R – Restrict activity.
I – Ice the injury immediately after it occurs. Use ice for 20 minutes every one to two hours for the first 48 hours after the injury.
C – Compression with an elastic bandage will reduce swelling.
E – Elevate the injured area to reduce swelling.
Seek medical attention if you suspect a serious injury — like bone deformity, excess swelling, radical skin-color change, inability to bear weight, or no sign of improvement.
Supplementing a sedentary week with highly physical activity on the weekend is tempting. Just remember, the drastic change of physical stress on your body can come with a hefty PRICE tag.
SUSAN LOCKE is Healthnetwork Foundation’s medical director.
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