By David Brough, MD
In the midst of summer and nearing autumn and its blissful glory, the seasons beg us to explore and venture out. From golfing to hiking, cycling to gardening, or any of the numerous outdoor activities you love, the warmer weather undoubtedly brings with it ample opportunities to enjoy your favorite pastimes.
Many of you fierce weekend warriors out there delve into these activities with haste. It is not surprising that one would so eagerly seek out opportunities that provide the benefits of exercise, improved mood and the invaluable time spent with friends or family.
A weekend warrior by definition engages in a recreational activity in their spare time, which for most of us ends up being on the two days per week we are free from work. The risk for injuries rises during these more active times. Fortunately, injury is often preventable with adequate preparation and by exercising a little caution.
These five tips should help keep you healthy and coming back for more of what you’re passionate about every weekend.
- Maintain a basic level of fitness throughout the week all year long. The biggest reason for injury among seasonal, weekend warriors is lack of physical conditioning that quickly leads to injury when engaging in new or renewed activities. Participating in some form of exercise during the week will help to maintain an ideal body weight and the conditioning needed for your favorite recreational pastime.
- Participation in a variety of sports. This is commonly used by professional athletes in the “off season” to prevent repetitive overuse injuries in their primary sport. This serves to also maintain strength, flexibility and cardiovascular conditioning for their next “in season.” There is a lesson here for all of you single-sport weekend warriors out there . . . don’t be afraid to mix it up and enjoy lots of different activities.
- Be patient. Your enthusiasm for getting “out there” could very well be your undoing. Allow time for your body to become accustomed to the demands you want to place on it. Warm up and stretch prior to any exercise.
- Listen to your body. Allow time to recover and always remember that “pain does not equal gain.” There should always be adequate time to recuperate after any exercise regimen.
- Do not dive headfirst into open bodies of water. Every year, diving is a leading cause of catastrophic spine injury leading to paralysis or even death especially during the summer. Unless it’s a diving pool built for the purpose, don’t even think about it.
To all weekend warriors, have a safe and healthy weekend. Do not allow a physical injury to put you back into hibernation.
David Brough, MD, is a physical medicine and rehab specialist with Carolina Spine and Neurosurgery Center, an affiliate of Mission Health.