Now that it’s spring and the weather is pleasant many people are resuming their outdoor activities. For many weekend warriors this rush to return to activity can cause strain on the body after long periods of inactivity during the winter season.
In his article How Weekend Warriors Can Prevent Back Pain, Dr. Stefano Sinicropi, writes
Life is busy, and even the best laid plans to get regular exercise can fall apart when life gets in the way. For many people, this leaves the weekend as the only real time when they have enough free time to commit to an exercise routine. It’s great that you’re trying to stay active, but research shows that weekend warriors are at a heightened risk for spine pain and back injuries because of these extended periods of inactivity followed by short periods of intense exercise.
Being a weekend warrior is better than not exercising at all, but we also want you to be mindful of the risks and do what you can to help keep your back injury free.
5 Back Care Tips for Weekend Warriors
Having five days off and then back-to-back days of moderate to intense physical activity isn’t ideal, but again, it’s preferred to being sedentary, so if this is truly the only way for you to get exercise, go for it. Otherwise, if it’s at all possible to wake up early or stay up a little later twice during the middle of the week, a schedule of Tuesday-Thursday-Sunday would be much better for your spine. If possible, try to adjust your mid-week schedule to be a little more accommodating of your workouts so that your body has ample time to recover between workouts.
However, if that’s just not possible, here are some ways to help protect your spine when exercising on the weekends.
Stretch – Your body will be deconditioned from a long stretch of off days, so really dive into a stretching routine before your weekend workouts. Don’t just focus on your back; make sure your whole body is warmed up before jumping into physical activity. Five minutes of stretching before and after a workout can go a long way in helping to prevent injuries.
Variation – Try not to do the same workouts two days in a row, especially if these are the only workouts you can perform during the week. By varying your workouts, you’ll avoid overstressing the same muscle groups, which is the most common source of injury. Varying your exercise routine also ensures that different muscle groups develop evenly. This is important because if your calves and hamstrings are very developed but you ignore your core, you’ll be at a heightened risk for injury.
Hydrate and Diet – What you eat and drink during the week plays a significant role in the health of your spine, so even if you can’t work out midweek, make sure you’re making healthy food choices. This will help avoid weight gain, which adds stress to the spine, and it can help combat problems like spinal inflammation that is more common in diets with excess sugars and carbs.
Find Other Ways To Be Active – Finally, there are other ways to be active during the week without going through a traditional workout. Take the dog for a walk, or pace around the house when taking a phone call. Finding little ways to be active throughout the day can help keep us healthy when we can’t carve out a full workout. Do some core work while watching television or wall sits while reading! Find a way to incorporate some exercise-like activities into your daily routine.
Get a Therapeutic Massage – While a massage can be relaxing, a therapeutic massage does a lot more for your body! With deep pressure, a therapeutic massage targets to connective tissue and deeper layers of muscle to release tension and inflammation. In addition to pain relief, therapeutic massage and connective tissue bodywork can increase your flexibility and range of motion.
I hope you’re out there enjoying the sunshine & fresh air this weekend! Remember to change it up! If you are doing the same repetitive activity like shoveling, laying down mulch or rock, or planting on your knees for hours. Take a break every hour and stretch… it can save your back.
And as always remember to stay hydrated friends!