Signing up for a charity golf tournament without swinging a club all summer, agreeing to climb a fourteener during a late night barbeque with friends, or backpacking 10 miles with the kids to a campsite all sound like fun summer weekend activities. But, your body may not be feeling so great on Monday morning after participating in the likes of these weekend warrior adventures. In fact, your body may be screaming, “Why do you do this to me?” as you slowly roll out of bed to start your work week feeling mentally fatigued and physically exhausted.
Before paying for your next weekend adventure with Monday morning pain, take into consideration the following four reasons you may be overdoing it during the weekends and how you can avoid sidelining yourself from the action.
Reason 1: We Aren’t Teenagers Any More
Even though age is just a number, it isn’t always a good idea to expect your adult body to perform at the same levels it did as an adolescent – especially after having kids when your body, sleep patterns and lifestyles tend to change. Regardless of your age or fitness level, though, it’s always important to pay respect to your muscles before and after any activity.
Marisa Carter, massage therapist at Elements Medford, suggests the following three muscle care activities before any type of physical activity – whether you’re taking the dog for a walk, competing in an event or playing sports with your kids.
- Warm: To keep from shocking your system and over-exerting your muscles, you want to prepare your body for any activity by first loosening your muscles with long, slow massage strokes.
- Stretch: Stretching before an activity doesn’t mean just touching your toes. You need to actively stretch your muscles with dynamic total body movements that wake up and prepare your body for activity.
- Reward: Your mind might be telling you that donuts and coffee are the best reward for a weekend activity. But the best reward for your body and its muscles is water. After a good stretch, treat your muscles to hydration.
Reason 2: We Reserve the Weekends for Stress Blowouts
Schedules can get crazy throughout the week, leading to missed workouts, increased stress and lack of preparation for your weekend sports events. When the weekend rolls around, we tend to try to make up for all of the missed opportunities during the week by playing too many pick-up basketball games or running/biking/swimming too much. This vicious cycle of playing catch-up not only leads to mental burnout, but increases your risk of physical injury as well.
Instead of blowing up mentally and physically during your weekend sports competition, be consistent throughout the week with at least some kind of physical activity. Even though you may be too busy to make it to the gym for an hour workout each day or play nine holes in preparation for an upcoming golf tournament, take at least 15 minutes to go for a quick walk during your day or take a few practice swings with your clubs before dinner to keep your body active and loose before your weekend activities.
Reason 3: We Expect Instant Gratification
Summer is the season of overbooked weekend activities, making it hard to focus on just one or two great events. In today’s society, we choose to do too much, all at once, to achieve immediate satisfaction. Instead of truly enjoying each of our activities, we end up over-extending ourselves and increasing the risk of physical injuries and mental exhaustion.
“We are in an age that everything is quick, instant and gives us immediate gratification,” Carter said. “It’s important to slow down, choose one activity that you’ll do consistently and truly enjoy.”
Reason 4: We Don’t Respect Appropriate Training
Training is important to preparing for a weekend race or activity. But it’s important to make sure that you are training your body correctly.
“People assume that they know how to train for events on their own. But you really need to consult with a professional because you can end up doing more harm than good if you aren’t training correctly,” Carter said. “Nine times out of ten, you are doing an exercise incorrectly if you haven’t consulted with a professional.”
The top four areas of the body that Carter sees injured or stressed on her clients include the back, knees, rotator cuff and feet. Your back can endure a lot of stress from daily activities such as lifting your kids and carrying a work bag, as well as when you are running, biking or training for an event. Rotator cuff injuries are most common from repetitive golf movements, throwing activities and any sport with an upper body focus. Knees and feet are most commonly associated with pounding and stress from running, walking, biking, etc. One of the best ways to minimize your risk of injury is to focus on proper body movement while training, competing and during your day-to-day activities.
Finish out the weekend warrior summer season feeling strong by not overdoing it physically and keeping a healthy mental perspective. Your Monday morning body will appreciate a more systematic approach that will get you to the starting and finish lines feeling your best and ready to tackle your next great weekend adventure.