Anyone who participates in sports or physical activities is prone to injuries. But if you’re a weekend warrior, you may be putting yourself more at risk. A “weekend warrior” is the name given to a person who is physically inactive most of the week, but then participates in rigorous activities on the weekend.

“You may be more prone to becoming injured when you’re not in proper condition,” says Dr. Juan David Asuaje, Medical Director of Weslaco Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. “It’s not uncommon for individuals to overestimate their abilities and push themselves beyond what they should reasonably do in a weekend. But the saying is true – if you don’t use it, you lose it. By not maintaining some sort of regular physical activity during the week, it can put someone at a higher risk of injury when they do too much on the weekends.”

A study through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that 80 percent of adult Americans don’t get the recommended amount of aerobic and muscle-toning exercises recommended every week. Muscle strains and ligament sprains are some of the more common injuries that can occur, usually in ankles, shoulders, elbows, lower backs, or knees.

“A sprain is when there’s injury to the ligament, or the tissue that connects the bones at a joint,” Asuaje says. “A person can stretch the ligaments past their limits by falling, twisting, or from being hit. This can cause pain, swelling, bruising, and stiffness in the joint.”

A strain, which is also known as a pulled muscle, is when there’s injury to the muscle or tendon. “Tendons are tissues that connect muscle to bone,” he says. “Twisting or pulling on the muscle, tendon, or both, can cause a strain. Symptoms of a strain are similar to those of a sprain – pain, swelling, trouble moving the muscle, and additionally it can cause muscle spasms.”

Asuaje likens injuries to ligaments and muscles to springs. “Typically with a spring, you can lengthen it, and it will return to its normal length,” he says. “But if you pull it too far out of its normal range, you can cause damage to it. The same holds true for muscles and ligaments.”

Initial treatment for strains and sprains usually involves the RICE method: Rest the injured area, Ice it, Compress it with a bandage, and Elevate the injury.

“If the injury doesn’t heal in the anticipated way, rehabilitation including physical therapy may be necessary,” Asuaje says.

During physical therapy, a therapist works with a patient to determine how best to treat and manage the injury. He or she can provide manual therapy and exercises that strategically help heal the injury while promoting better form to prevent re-injury. These therapeutic exercises are designed to aid in inflammation reduction, stiffness, and soreness. In addition, physical therapy can help a person increase muscle strength, endurance, joint stability, and flexibility.

With a little planning, Asuaje says many weekend warriors can reduce their risk of injury by the following:

Realize that exercise doesn’t have to be “all or nothing.” Look for ways to sneak extra movement into your day.
Increase activity gradually. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of exercise a day, 5 days a week. Break this into smaller goals for yourself so you can attain it. If three 10-minute sessions are easier for you to accomplish, then do it.

The “best” time of day to exercise is whatever works for you.
Start at a lower intensity, and warm up before beginning an activity.
With any sport or exercise, always learn and use proper techniques and follow safety guidelines.

Put your workouts into your calendar as appointments. Be sure to keep them.
Wear comfortable shoes every day that you can move about easily in no matter where you are or what you’re doing…and then move!

Weslaco Regional Rehabilitation Hospital provides specialized rehabilitative services to patients recovering from or living with disabilities caused by injuries, illnesses, or chronic medical conditions. The hospital is ranked in the Top 10% for rehabilitative care in the nation and has earned The Joint Commission’s disease-specific certification for Stroke Rehabilitation.

For more information, visit WRRH.ernesthealth.com.
906 S. James St. • Weslaco, TX 78596• (P) 956-969-2222 • (F) 956-969-2221 • WRRH.ernesthealth.com