Tips and Strategies to Keep Weekend Warriors in Prime Condition

Are you a weekend warrior? According to Mark E. Kasmer, M.D., Sports Medicine Specialist at Carilion Clinic, weekend warriors are “athletes who train minimally during the week and then engage in vigorous athletic activity on the weekend.” Although being a weekend warrior allows you to focus on your job and family life during the week and still get the benefits of a vigorous workout on the weekends, these individuals are at a greater risk for bot overuse and acute injuries. “Most injuries specific to the weekend warrior are the result of improper training. This includes core weakness, poor flexibility, poor muscle training, as well as an inadequate ‘ramping up’ of activity to allow both bone and tendon adaptations to stress,” Dr. Kasmer says.

Among the overuse injuries that can occur are tennis elbow, hip tendinopathy, patellofemoral syndrome and stress fractures. Acute injuries, which are injuries that occur suddenly, include muscle and tendon tears and ligament sprains and strains. Fortunately, weekend warriors can continue to work hard and play hard with little risk of injury by following these simple tips.

Runners are another group with increased risks due to training errors.

“A recent article, specific to running, stated that training errors account for 60 to 70 percent of all musculoskeletal running injuries,” Dr. Kasmer says.

Fortunately, weekend warriors can continue to work hard and play hard with little risk of injury by following these simple tips.

Tip #1: Engage in flexibility training throughout the week.

“First and foremost, any active individual needs to remember flexibility, resistance, and cardiovascular activity and training are recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine for healthy adults,” Dr. Kasmer says. “For healthy, active, athletic adults, this is even more important not only for health benefit, but also injury prevention.” Flexibility training refers to doing stretches and activities that increase one’s range of motion. One of the most effective—and most customizable—ways to increase flexibility is through yoga. “Flexibility training can be something as simple as two days a week of yoga,” Dr. Kasmer says. “There are several phone apps available that make this simple and easy. Typically, there’s a range of expertise and time, so it can be tailored to the individual need.”

Tip #2: Engage in resistance training throughout the week.

Resistance training, which entails exercising your muscles using an opposing force, requires more planning than flexibility training, but it does not require access to a full gym. “Two days a week of resistance training is recommended,” Dr. Kasmer says. “This includes core strength and glute strength, as well as lower body strength being more specific to the intended athletic activity.

A basic core and glute resistance program can be done with body weight and/or with the addition of resistance bands.”

Tip #3: Engage in cardiovascular exercises throughout the week.

Cardiovascular exercises are exercises that raise your heart rate, and everyone should do at least 30 minutes of cardio at least three to five times per week. Weekend warriors, especially those gearing up for a big event or competition, will need to do even more cardio to adequately prepare. Luckily, cardiovascular exercises can be done just about anywhere (a brisk lunch break walk counts), are often simple, and can be a lot of fun! A weekly dance class in the style of your choice is just one example of weekday cardio that won’t feel like work.

Tip #4: Consider trying low-impact and low-risk sports and activities.

“At times, as an athlete, we forget that we don’t need sweat to be beading down our foreheads or a drenched workout shirt for it to count as an athletic activity,” Dr. Kasmer says. “Events such as swimming, tennis, golf, walking and cycling are great. And, being in such an amazing part of the Appalachian Mountains, it’s hard not to take advantage of the outdoor activities that allow us to soak in all of nature while getting a workout in, such as canoeing, kayaking or hiking.”

Tip #5: If you’ve already incurred an injury, make an appointment with a Carilion specialist.

Of course, any physical activity carries a risk of injury, and Carilion Clinic can help with orthopedic injuries large and small. “Carilion Clinic offers orthopaedic specialists for all musculoskeletal injuries: hand and upper extremity, foot and ankle, spine, shoulder and elbow, sports medicine, hip and knee adult reconstruction, pediatrics and trauma,” says Thomas K. Miller, M.D., Section Chief of Sports Medicine at Carilion Clinic. “We can take care of complex trauma to daily bumps and bruises. We are fortunate to have a solid group of fellowship trained physicians, and we’ve continued to build our program to meet the needs of the patients in our community.”

by Emily Hedrick