Ode to the Weekend Warriors Sports Injury
The working week is hard and your last priority is exercise when you get home. But as a weekend warrior you are committed to do your vigorous 75 minutes of recommended exercise a week. But condensed – you are the definition of efficiency! But beware,watch out for the dreaded sports injury!
Research has told us that the health benefits are similar to those whom spread out their exercise throughout the week, so you are still looking after yourself. But exercising two days back to back can actually make you more prone to injury and cause performance decline.
Hence why it may seem to take you a whole week to recover from that calf, hamstring and back strain.
This cycle is typical of muscle overload, which occurs due to a number of contributing factors. Throughout the week being sedentary at your desk can cause your muscles to become.: stiffer, weaker and less conditioned to your exercise demands.
Without sufficient training and preparation, the excessive demand on the muscles with your weekend rituals can lead to overload and injury.
When you are tight and stiff your muscles constantly have to work harder to overcome this. Your muscles cannot work within their optimal capacity they are used too.
We know that to prevent injury you require muscle endurance, strength and flexibility. That requires 2-3 sessions a week to optimise and maintain these benefits. Your particular sporting activities have specific demands on your body and therefore you need to train for them. This will also help improve your performance.
So how do we prevent these niggles?
It requires conditioning throughout the week and doing a thorough dynamic stretching warm up prior to exercise and stretching after.
Everyone have two calf muscles, one which is your postural muscles built for endurance called your Soleus. The other that is more utilised for power called your Gastrocnemius.
Hence they work in slightly different ways and are targeted slightly differently. To strengthen your calves you need to do a calf raise, this involves going on to the balls of you feet and then slowly coming back down. If that is easy then do it on one leg. For strengthening outcomes you need to go to the point of fatigue which may be 12 repetitions and doing that threes times with a break in-between.
Perfect opportunity to smash out a set is whilst on your on break waiting for your coffee. To target both muscles do the calf raises with your knee straight and then with your knee slightly bent. To optimise their capacity before exercise doing a dynamic stretch is important.
There are a few ways to tackle this, one you can go into a downward dog position and transfer your weight backwards, alternately dropping one knee to the ground.
Another way is having the balls of your feet on a step and letting one heel drop off the step until you feel a slight stretch and alternating. Do these stretches for a minute.
The hamstrings are the big bulk of muscles at the back of your leg, which help decelerate your leg whilst running and let you jump, hop and kick.
When training the hamstrings it is important to also consider the whole kinetic chain including hip stability, gluteal strength and hip flexor tightness.
To strengthen your hamstrings the best exercise is a hip bridge or squat, both demonstrated in the exercises below.
To gain strength benefits you want to do 12 repetitions and do these three times.
To improve hamstring mobility, before a game warm up your hamstrings doing dynamic leg swings both across your body and forwards and backwards.
After warming hold your leg straight, slightly leaning forwards until you feel a stretch down the back of your leg, as demonstrated below.
To improve back pain after exercise it means optimising your lower back mobility prior. Therefore throughout the week ensuring you minimise sedentary periods with change of posture. This will help get your back moving better.
There is no optimal posture that improves peoples back pain. It is more so your next posture is the best posture. Do you have the luxury of a sit stand desk? Then utilising it either regularly throughout the day or alternatively going for a small walk or doing stretches every half an hour is the go.
The stretches bellow will help improve any stiffness in the lower back prior to exercise and any niggles after.
The best back strengthening exercise is specific to the demands of your sport and includes not only strengthening your back muscles but your pelvis and core muscles also.
Do these exercises on both sides of your body and repeat 5 times, holding for 30 seconds.
*Above images courtesy of Physiotec Exercise Software
Written by Physiotherapist Lauren Mutton.
Lauren consults at myPhysioSA Mount Barker and Payneham in Adelaide.
Lauren loves helping people with sports injuries, she is a top level Hockey player herself.
If you have suffered a weekend sports injury then you should checkout our Monday evening sports injury assessment clinic.