Are you a weekend warrior? A weekend warrior is defined as a person who engages in athletic activity on weekends with minimal or no activity during the week. Most warriors simply don’t have the time during the week to exercise with the intermittent strenuous activity increasing their risk of injury.
Can a weekend warrior maintain a healthy balance in their fitness routine? “Absolutely,” says Dr. Derek H. Ochiai, an orthopedic hip surgeon and sports medicine expert at the Nirschl Orthopaedic Center in Arlington, Virginia. “The key is to build at least mild fitness routines into a regimen at least two to three times a week to maintain general fitness so that you can do the fun stuff on the weekends.”
“If it’s at all possible try to get in at least one additional workout during the week,” recommends Liz Neporent, a fitness expert featured on Acacia TV. “One way to do this would be to try and get in 3-4 five minute bursts of activity. It can be walking, climbing the stairs at the office – whatever, as long as you get in some moderately paced movement on at least one other day. Then it isn’t so much a shock to the system when you get moving on the weekend.”
“A weekend warrior can maintain a healthy balance in their fitness routine by including 2-3 minutes of yoga breathing and movement techniques that prepare the body for more activity,” says yoga therapist, Veronica Zador, director and lead instructor of the Beaumont School of Yoga Therapy, the nation’s first hospital-based teacher training school. “Then adding a few additional yoga movements and breathing techniques following athletic activities as well. This helps the body maintain balance, useable strength, flexibility and muscular restoration so that the weekend warrior can be just as active with just as much fun next weekend!”
What are the major health concerns for weekend warriors? “Overuse injuries, such as tendonitis, are frequent with weekend warriors,” says Dr. Ochiai. “Weekend athletes sometimes overestimate their fitness level and push it too quickly.”
“Instead of spending 150 minutes doing one activity like running, consider a combination of activities such as run-swim-run on Saturday followed by a bike ride or volleyball game on Sunday,” says Dr. Bradley Thomas, an orthopedic surgeon at Beach Cities Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. “This will help spread the stress of your work-out over multiple body parts rather than overburdening one area.”
“Muscle strains and muscle pulls are health concerns for weekend warriors,” says Carolyn Dean, MD, ND – Medical Advisory Board Member, Nutritional Magnesium Association. “It is important not to over-train. Signs you should look for alerting you to rest your muscles and avoid over training are a higher than normal resting heart rate and disrupted sleep due to an elevated heart rate and muscle cramping and muscle twitching. These are also signs of a magnesium deficiency which is depleted through sweat, urine and physical and mental stress.”
“A few simple steps of injury prevention can go a long way,” says Dr. Thomas. “Spend a few minutes every day doing a few impel stretches like a forward bend and calf stretches. Focus on your posture in the workplace to keep your core activated.”
How can warriors relieve muscle soreness? “If an activity is painful WHILE you are doing it, stop the activity and rest,” says Dr. Ochiai. “If there is just general soreness the day afterwards, but it is not limiting you in any way, then over the counter pain medications are fine. If the pain lingers longer than a few days or increases in intensity even with stopping the activity, seek medical attention.”
“Sore muscles are a product of hard work,” says Bob Talamini, a personal trainer at the Houstonian Club. “To reduce muscle soreness, I recommend engaging in a combination of light/low intensity movement with a good mobility/stretch routine. You can also throw in a massage if time and finances dictate. They always feel good!”
“Managing pain is more effective if a pre-and-post activity (weekend) agenda is followed,” says fitness expert, Jay Jordan, Founder of Fitness Mavericks. “For example, your level of hydration is critical to minimize pain as well as optimize performance so extra electrolytes taken for 48 hours prior to weekend aids in minimizing aches and soreness. Right after performance intermittent hot and cold showers help (30 second intervals) as well as proper stretching and cool down.”
“Pre and post flexibility moves help to decrease muscle soreness,” advises Jay Cardiello, a globally-recognized fitness and nutrition expert, a personal trainer to celebrities, a contributor to leading media outlets and a published author. “Drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water daily; getting adequate sleep and keeping a healthy diet rich in water based foods such as fruits and vegetables. Aim for 7-9 servings daily. Also, drinking tart cherry juice helps to relive soreness and ice baths for 10 minutes.”
Some general pain relief advice for weekend warriors includes:
Go topical! “Acetaminophen has a narrow therapeutic window, meaning the difference between a safe and effective dose and an overdose, which could lead to liver toxicity, is a relatively small increment in milligram consumption,” says Dr. Aristotle Economou, author and acclaimed Beverly Hills physician. “Topical pain relievers such as creams, gels and sprays work locally and largely reduce, although they do not entirely eliminate the systemic risk that OTC pain pills can present. The Salonpas patches are the first and only topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatories approved through the FDA’s rigorous New Drug Application process which is the same process used to approve prescription medicines.”
“If there is swelling or inflammation, consider an anti-inflammatory diet (cut out potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, etc.) and other foods which may seem healthy but can cause inflammation,” says Jordan.
“Avoid inflammatory foods,” advises Cardiello. “Our body reacts negatively to these foods, i.e., added sugar. Keep added sugar to a minimum especially if you are looking for reduce pain.”
“The use of anti-inflammatories and body part cooling can really settle things down,” says Dr. Thomas. “Avoid strenuous exercise when you are sore to reduce the risk of a muscle tear.” It is time to visit an orthopedic specialist when the pain last more than a few days or there is significant swelling or bruising.
Warm water treatment is an ancient remedy for easing sore muscles. Personal spas which combine massage and hot water can be a luxurious home treatment.
“Magnesium is an anti-inflammatory so it will help with general pain relief along with heat/cold patches, ice packs, etc.,” says Dr. Dean. “Magnesium assists over 700 enzyme actions in the body including the production and transport of energy, temperature regulation and the synthesis of protein, while it also relaxes muscles, preventing cramping especially important to athletes and anyone suffering from muscle soreness.”
“For muscle soreness I recommend two actions to take right away,” adds Dr. Dean. “Take an Epsom salts bath – warm to moderately hot Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) baths will help relax muscles, alleviate any weekend warrior inflammation, relieve muscle pain; magnesium absorbed into the tissues creates muscle relaxation, then follow this with oral magnesium citrate powder mixed in water before bedtime will help you fall asleep fast as it acts as a natural sleep aid and help one further relax muscles as well as back and neck tension. As it begins to help, mix magnesium citrate powder in water and sip it throughout the day. Most Americans, about 75% do not get their RDA of magnesium. Magnesium will relax muscles, relieve stress and allow the body to fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply and recover from muscle soreness faster.
Three minerals that work synergistically to contract muscles and relax muscles are calcium and potassium for smooth muscle contraction and magnesium for muscle relaxation. Along with sodium these are the key electrolytes. The kingpin of these minerals is magnesium. Too much calcium in the body without enough magnesium throws off this delicate balance causing muscle spasms and cramping. Due to a diet of processed foods, caffeine, sugar and depleted minerals from our soils, most people do not get their RDA of magnesium and are deficient in this mineral.”
“Reversing pain and discomfort are central to yoga therapy,” says Zador. “For the weekend warrior this means using yoga to create the greatest sense of balance, comfort and restfulness. Yoga emphasizes self-management in helping reverse pain and discomfort. With the guidance of a yoga therapist, the week end-warrior develops a personal (and portable) tool-box. Their yoga tool box contains yoga techniques to use court-side and beyond to help cheer them onto to long term health, stability and strength.”
“Try to avoid any major ‘sore muscle episodes’ by have a logical and systematic progression – i.e., don’t let your brain take control of your program unless you have your fitness base firmly in place, ” says Talamini. “The old standard of ice, heat, and massage have always been a good way to control the inflammation and irritation we can get with pain. Remember that if any pain or unusual feeling persists more than a few days, you should seek professional opinion and evaluation. Very serious things can be attributed to muscles soreness or a condition you think you have because of working out. Don’t assume persistent or unusual pain is always from your workout. Get it checked out!”