I think it was Loverboy that sang, “Everybody’s working for the weekend!” Pretty sure it was. Anyway, I think they were on to something. Being active is certainly a good thing. Unfortunately, our lives are so hectic that during the week we rarely find time to move our bodies as much as we would like to. As a result, we try and make up for it on the weekends. As with anything, extremes can cause problems.
If you sit at a desk with posture that deteriorates over the week, then go and try to play like you used to in college, problems are going to arise. I am not saying that you shouldn’t be a weekend warrior. In fact, I encourage it. But, if you are going to be really active over the weekend and sedentary during the week, please do yourself a favor and do these 5 things to allow yourself to keep active but reduce your risk of injury on the weekends.
1. Hydrate. Keeping hydrated throughout the week has many benefits. First of all it will flush out the toxins you release into your body during physical activity. When muscles have enough water they remain aerobic and will perform longer. Water keeps tissue flexible and improves blood flow. You should drink plenty of water each day (1-2 Liters, minimum per day) but as the weekend activity approaches, increase consistently. If you drink tea, coffee or soda, you’ll need to drink more water as all are diuretics and will deplete your water and electrolytes.
2. Stretch. Keeping muscles flexible will go a long way to avoiding injury and not just to muscles but to joints, as well. Holding a stretch less than 30 seconds only keeps the muscle lengthened for a short period of time. Shoot for about a minute. You only need to stretch power muscles in the legs and arms. Spinal muscles are postural muscles and should not be stretched (that is whole new article I think I’ll write about next). Remember to protect your back when stretching. Here is a video of how to properly stretch the hamstrings (I should probably do more videos of how to stretch all the muscles of the legs and arms).
3. Challenge your coordination. Good coordination will keep you from most sprains and strains. The problem is that if you injure an area it becomes uncoordinated. Do things throughout the week to challenge your coordination or at least stimulate some of those senses. Walking barefoot on various surfaces, picking up things with your toes, balancing things on your feet, brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand (or any activity like using the computer mouse), etc, will all improve coordination and help you avoid injury.
4. Give your postural muscles a break. I told you not to stretch them so you may be wondering what to do with the muscles of the back and neck. The answer is to shorten those muscles to give them a break. We do way too much bending forward. To counteract, do some back and neck bends. If you are sitting at your desk right now, stand up, put your hands on your low back and pelvis and bend backwards 10 times. Then, put your index and middle fingers in the middle of you neck and bend backwards over them 10 times. See how good you feel! (If you don’t, it is time to make an appointment.)
5. Sleep. I understand that this is a premium. Sleep keeps the nervous system sharp and active. It allows muscles and joints to work like they should and keeps the immune system at peak performance. Please trust me when I say that if you get 7-8 hours of sleep a night you will work efficiently enough that you will actually accomplish more than if you use your sleep time to work. If you are having a tough time focusing during the day, try a 10 minute power nap. This is not easy but with practice it is a valuable tool.
There you have it. Five things you can work on during the week to help avoid injury during the weekend. Of course, I could add a sixth thing and say get adjusted but I thought that was pretty obvious.