Despite its omission from a majority of adult’s lives, there is no doubt that regular exercise is a key factor to good health. To try and make up for this omission, a growing number of aging adults are throwing themselves into vigorous athletic activities during the weekend – hence the moniker “weekend warrior.” Unfortunately, individuals who are relatively sedentary before enthusiastically partaking in a sport once a week are particularly prone to musculoskeletal injuries. Luckily, bodyworkers who are trained in working with these six common musculoskeletal injuries can be of great help to their weekend warrior clients.
Considering the long hours many people spend working one or more jobs, sitting in front of a computer, taking care of business on the phone, tending to their familial and personal responsibilities or watching their favorite television program, it’s no wonder there is not enough time for the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity each day. In addition, it can be hard to find the motivation for a seemingly mundane exercise that may not be very enjoyable. However, sports that involve competition or exposure to nature can transform a less-than-passionate attitude into a die-hard athletic commitment.
Because the muscles, tendons and ligaments of a weekend warrior typically do not receive the same kind of steady conditioning and progressive lengthening as a professional athlete, they can be particularly prone to injury. Practitioners rank the following athletic injuries among the six most common for weekend warriors:
- Rotator Cuff – Prevalent among athletes who use a vigorous overhead arm motion, rotator cuff injuries occur when the muscles in the shoulder snag on bone. Over time, the muscles tear, causing sharp pain and limiting range of motion. Severe rotator cuff injuries generally require surgery.
- Low Back Pain – Probably the most widely encountered sports injury, low back pain can have many causes, such as strained muscles, pinched nerves or degenerated discs. An aching low back is often associated with endurance sports, like biking. Typically the iliopsoas, near the lumbar spine, tightens with each upstroke on the bike pedal. The shorter and tighter the muscle becomes, the more troublesome it can be.
- Knee Arthritis – Osteoarthritis develops as the cartilage in the joint wears away, causing bone to rub against bone. This degenerative condition results in pain, stiffness and inflammation. High-impact, weight-bearing activities such as running and jumping are worse for the knee and carry a greater risk of injury over time; while low-impact activities such as swimming and cycling may protect the knee’s cartilage.
- Iliotibial Band – Better known as the IT band, the iliotibial band is a thick, stubborn, hard-to-stretch muscle-tendon band that runs along the outside of the thigh from hip to knee. Inflammation of the band where it rubs against the outer knee can cause a burning or stinging sensation during running or similar repetitive, high-impact sports. Experts believe that IT band tightness is often the result of numerous intrinsic, postural imbalances or overtraining.
- Patello-Femoral Syndrome – Activity-related pain at the patello-femoral joint space is typically felt in both knees, and aggravated during exercise. Patello-femoral pain can be spread out or localized at the inner or outer patella, increases during exercise and subsides during rest. However, the pain can return when sitting for periods of time with bent knees.
- Plantar Fasciitis – Inflammation on the bottom of the feet, plantar fasciitis can cause excruciating pain. Because staying off the feet for any length of time is not realistic, plantar fasciitis can take a long time to heal. Often related to issues like high arches, flat feet, tight calf muscles, inward pronation or a taught Achilles tendon, plantar fasciitis may also be a result of overtraining or inappropriate footwear.
Weekend warriors have a better chance of staying injury free if they:
- get physical activity at least five days a week
- engage in an extensive stretching and strengthening program
- have good body mechanics
- have the proper equipment for their sport
However, this is not always realistic. Thus, bodyworkers who are knowledgeable and prepared to help clients with a rotator cuff injury, low back pain, knee arthritis, IT band syndrome, patella-femoral syndrome and plantar fasciitis, are best able to direct their weekend warrior clients off the sidelines and back to their favorite athletic activity.