For Immediate Release
Helping “Weekend Warriors” Win the Battle Against Sports-Related Injuries:
Occasional athletes must work harder, smarter to reap benefits and reduce risks of exercise
Greenwich, CT and NY, NY, May 2005 For “weekend warriors” sports enthusiasts who find little time to indulge in their favorite activities during the workweek, but try instead to cram a weeks worth of them into two short weekend days there’s good news, and there’s bad news.
“The good news is that a recent study1 has found weekend-warrior type exercise is still beneficial to the cardiovascular system,” explains Kevin Plancher, M.D., a leading NY-area orthopaedist, sports medicine expert and official orthopaedic surgeon of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard teams. “The bad news is that these weekend warriors run a high risk of joint and muscle injuries as a result of their lifestyle,” he adds.
Weekend Warrior Risks
Dr. Plancher notes that a number of factors conspire to make Weekend Warrior activities more dangerous. “First, they tend to be longer in duration and greater in intensity than weekday exercise sessions,” he explains. What’s more, from day-long golf outings and hours-long tennis or racquetball sessions to organized games of team sports like soccer and basketball, Weekend Warrior sports also tend to involve groups of players. “Playing a sport with a group of college buddies or neighborhood friends can inspire a more competitive spirit than, say, walking or jogging alone,” Dr. Plancher points out. “The more competitive we get, the more likely we are to push our bodies past their limits, increasing the risk of injuries,” he says.
These injuries are most likely to occur in the joints and muscles of the knees, shoulders and elbows, Dr. Plancher notes, for two key reasons. “Firstly, they are the three key areas that receive the most shock and friction during these Weekend Warrior activities and they’re also the areas that get the least amount of weekday workouts, based on the Weekend Warriors mostly sedentary lifestyle during the workweek.”
Here to Stay
This Weekend Warrior lifestyle is both real and necessary, it seems. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics 2003 “American Time Use Survey,” Americans spend 70% more time exercising on weekends than they do on weekdays. Thats because employed Americans spend more than eight hours on average each weekday at work, and another six hours on average attending to household and family needs like chores, child care, errands and social/educational commitments. What’s worse, Americans spend what little recreation time they have during the week primarily on sedentary activities like watching television, reading, computer activities or relaxation.
Ready, Set, Play
With experts suggesting that the Weekend Warrior lifestyle is likely to persist, and can be a healthy “last resort” for those with no time to exercise during the week, Dr. Plancher offers the following tips to prepare the body for a weekend of intense sports activity:
- A little goes a long way: Weekend Warriors can take steps during the week to protect themselves for their weekend activities,” Dr. Plancher points out. For example, take a quick 20-30 minute jog at lunch each day, or keep a set of light weights in the office for a brief morning workout, or try using a bath towel as a resistance band to stretch shoulders and back muscles during a telephone call. All of these activities can keep muscles engaged and fluid flowing in the joints, helping to ready these areas for more intense activity on the weekends. “Preparing the body during the week for a high level of weekend activity is better than nothing at all,” he adds.
- Saturday morning stretch: “Warmups are key to protecting joints before higher level exercise,” Dr. Plancher notes. He advocates 20-30 minutes of jogging or brisk walking to enhance joint flexibility, followed by brief stretching work to prepare the muscles for a more intense workout.
- Take a break: Weekend Warriors should pace themselves properly during long activities,” Dr. Plancher advises. “Take breaks at regular intervals for rest and to hydrate the body, because the muscles need water to function properly,” he adds.
- Don’t be a hero: “It’s critical that Weekend Warriors and all athletes, for that matter recognize when the body is overworked, or when it is injured, and immediately stop the activity,” Dr. Plancher warns. “Many sports-related joint and muscle injuries require immediate medical attention in order to heal as quickly and painlessly as possible,” he adds. If in doubt, call a time-out.