We all know that person, or perhaps you are that person. Your time for exercise during the week is limited, yet come the weekend you find yourself engaging in a 5k, obstacle course race, or flag football tournament and giving it your all.
While your enthusiasm is admirable, does the benefit of these weekend athletics outweigh the risk? Are you at increased risk for injury with an inconsistent exercise regime?
The short answer is: yes. While intentions are good, research indicates that inconsistent exercise without proper warm up and training can put a person at increased risk for injury. Based on a 2014 Canadian study, the concept of the “weekend warrior” at increased risk for injury is valid based on a retrospective cohort study.
So, for all of the “weekend warriors” out there, here are a few recommendations for reducing risk of injury:
- Regular exercise spread out over the course of the week is ideal. Make a goal of training 3 days per week with rest days in between. It’s all about time management!
- Gradually increase exercise intensity/distance/duration. Training for a big bike race? Make a plan, map it out on your calendar, and allow adequate time (weeks, even months) to increase your training.
- Commit to a proper warm up and cool down. This can (and should) include a stretching regime as well.
- Strength and conditioning. Don’t neglect the core. Proper exercise to improve core function and body mechanics will improve sport performance AND reduce risk of injury.
- Listen to your body. If it hurts, it’s not always a good idea to push through the pain. Allow adequate rest time. RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) if necessary. Seek out the advice of your health care provider or physical therapist. The longer you run with that sore ankle/knee/hip/back, the longer it may take to recover.
The bottom line: by taking a few preventive measures and listening to your body, you can continue to enjoy your weekend athletic endeavors without being sidelined!
The following scholarly article was cited in this post: Roberts DJ, Ouellet JF, McBeth PB, Kirkpatrick AW, Dixon E, Ball CG. The “weekend warrior”: fact or fiction for major trauma?. Can J Surg. 2014;57(3):E62–E68. doi:10.1503/cjs.030812