4 Weekday Prep Tips for the Weekend Warrior

By Tara Hackney, PT, DPT, OCS, KTTP for Athletico Physical Therapy

Weekend warriors are those that participate in higher levels of physical activity on the weekends with minimal activity performed during the week. In order to prevent injury, weekend warriors need to be aware of the risks their activity choices make on their bodies.

For instance, it is important to keep in mind that the body cannot go from inactive during the week to high intensity weekend warrior mode instantly. Exercise intensity and participation should be progressive to decrease the risk of injury. Here are some helpful tips to help weekend warriors stay fit for bouts of intense physical activity on the weekends:

1. Try to incorporate activity into your week

Oftentimes weekend warriors only participate in weekend activities due to time constraints during the week. However, if time does not permit a full workout during the week, even small bouts of activity can help the body with the demands placed on it during the weekends. Trying to fit in a couple of stretching sessions during the week is a good idea.

These sessions can be as short as 10 minutes but will help the muscles recover. Also consider trying strength training. There are some good strengthening exercises that require no equipment and can be performed quickly at home – such as planks or squats. These strengthening exercises will help the muscles adapt to the demands of weekend activities.

2. Eat a healthy diet and stay hydrated.

Exercise requires energy and hydration. The best way to fuel the body is with a healthy diet throughout the week and weekend. Drinking water will also help performance, as dehydration can lead to overheating and potential heat exhaustion. Having protein rich snacks as well as water rich fruits and vegetables around throughout the week will help build healthy habits for activities on the weekend. 

3. Change it up.

Weekend warriors may find themselves only performing one type of activity and this repetition can leave them at higher risk of injury. Switching up routines can allow the body to recover and provide better overall benefits. Remember a well-rounded workout utilizes both cardiovascular and strength training. Use the weekdays to research new types of activities to try, from a new Saturday morning spin class to a Sunday afternoon tennis match.

4. Know your limits.

There are tons of different types of workouts to pick from and sometimes it is difficult to know where to start. Understanding limitations is key to decreasing injury risk. Do not plan to go from completely sedentary to extremely active right away. Find an activity that you like to do and gradually increase the difficulty level as you can tolerate.

  • Tip: Use the RICE method to help relieve pain and swelling for minor injuries.

Don’t Ignore Injury

If you are a weekend warrior suffering from an injury or lingering aches and pains after activity, make sure to request an appointment at your nearest Athletico location so that our clinicians can help with the healing process so you can get back to activity as soon as possible.

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Minimizing the Risk of Running Injuries with Strength Training

By Rebecca Weiner, PT, DPT, ASTYM certified for Athletico Physical Therapy

The days are longer and the weather is finally nicer, which means more people will be out running. Thinking about running that neighborhood 5k or half marathon this summer? When deciding between which training program to follow, make sure you don’t forget to incorporate strength training. Strength training is believed to help with injury prevention in runners.

In fact, research shows that a strength training program including resistance and plyometric exercises performed 2–3 times per week for 8–12 weeks is an appropriate strategy to improve speed and form for middle and long distance runners. What’s more, runners who performed resistance training three or more times per week were approximately 50 percent less likely to experience a running-related injury. The study also showed that the combination of running and resistance training increased both short- and long-term  endurance performance in sedentary and trained individuals.

Based on the facts stated above, it is important to strength train while training for your next run – whether it’s a 5k or 26.2 miles. This does not by any means mean that you have to bulk up. You just need to make sure you are working the muscles that support you during your run to make you more efficient and less prone to injury.

Here are some exercises to help strengthen your lower extremities:

Leg raises: Begin lying on your back with one knee bent and your other leg straight. Engaging your thigh muscles, slowly lift your straight leg until it is parallel with your other thigh, then lower it back to the starting position and repeat. Try to keep your back flat during the exercise and keep your leg straight. Complete three sets of 15 and add ankle weights to make it more challenging.

Minimizing the Risk of Running Injuries with Strength Training Minimizing the Risk of Running Injuries with Strength Training


Sidestepping with resistance: Begin in a standing upright position with a resistance band looped around your ankles. Step sideways, maintaining the tension in the band. Walk about 10 feet and then repeat in the opposite direction. Make sure to keep your feet pointing forward and to keep your trunk upright.

Minimizing the Risk of Running Injuries with Strength Training Minimizing the Risk of Running Injuries with Strength Training


Squats: Begin with standing tall with your feet shoulder width apart. Bend your knees, sitting your hips back with your chest upright. Return to standing and repeat. Add dumbbells to make it more challenging. 

Minimizing the Risk of Running Injuries with Strength Training Minimizing the Risk of Running Injuries with Strength Training Minimizing the Risk of Running Injuries with Strength Training


Bridge with ball squeeze: Begin lying on your back with your legs bent, feet resting on the floor, and a ball between your knees. Engage your abdominals as you gently squeeze the ball between your knees and lift your hips off the ground into a bridge position. Hold for about 2-3 seconds and then lower back down to the ground and repeat.

Minimizing the Risk of Running Injuries with Strength Training Minimizing the Risk of Running Injuries with Strength Training

Crossing the Finish Line

These are great exercises to get you started with strength training and to help you avoid running injuries when preparing for your next race. Don’t forget to also cross train and take days off from running. If you do experience any aches or pains during your training, please consult a physical therapist at your nearby Athletico for a free injury screen.

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Preventing Cycling Arm and Hand Injuries

By Janet Apgar, OTR/L, CHT, ASTYM-cert for Athletico Physical Therapy

preventing cycling arm and hand injuries

As spring brings warmer weather and adds daylight hours, biking fever spreads!

Although biking is fun and can be good for your health, cyclists should still keep a few things about their bodies in mind before hitting those trails to prevent injury. Given its whole body involvement, cycling can involve a few injuries including ones to the upper body. In fact, one survey found that approximately 31 percent of cyclists reported overuse hand problems. So, whether your biking dreams entail off-road adventures or long-distance road cycling, it is important to take precautions to protect your arms and hands from injury, which can arise from one or more of these three causes: improper positioning, sustained positioning or trauma from a fall or collision.

Improper Positioning

Even after buying the correct sized bike and having the seat aligned, a misfit between the cyclist and the bike can occur affecting not only the spine and legs, but also the arms. Symptoms that may signal poor positioning can include numbness and tingling in the ring and small fingers, numbness and tingling in the thumb, index, and middle fingers, clumsiness with tasks involving hand coordination and pain in the arms, wrist, hands and back.

Some common positioning mistakes that can lead to numbness, tingling and wrist and thumb/hand pain include hands being positioned wider than shoulder-width apart and the wrists being angled too far back, forward or inward. These can be addressed by changing handle bars from straight to angled or using aero bars. Wearing padded gloves can also absorb the shock and vibration of the ride as well as allow for a looser grip.

Pain in the back and hands can stem from riding with rounded back and shoulders or with elbows locked in extension and can involve handle bars that are too low or too high in relation to the seat or tight hamstrings.

What is the right position then? The ideal riding position involves a neutral back, slight elbow bend, hands shoulder width apart and wrists in mid-position. Changes in handle bar height and angle (as mentioned above) as well as addition of ergonomic grips, added bar ends, adjustable height or adjustable angle handle bars can all assist to achieve the correct positioning.

If the above necessary positioning modifications are made and the affected body part is rested early enough, the symptoms should resolve within a couple of days. However, if symptoms involve coordination problems with the fingers or have been longstanding, it may take weeks to months to recover and may possibly require seeing a physician that is a hand specialist and/or an Occupational Therapist.

Sustained Positioning

Even with the best bike fit, sustained positioning while riding has the inherent risk of continuous pressure and requires constant shock absorption on the part of vital structures including: blood vessels, nerves, joints and muscles. This can lead to tissue breakdown and inflammation.

This can be especially prevalent with road bikes as their speed and aerodynamics require the trunk to be angled 60-75 degrees forward toward the bars (i.e., the cyclist is not as upright as the off road mountain biker or hybrid biker). This position requires strong overall core and upper body conditioning to go faster and/or longer distances. Addressing these areas as part of an overall fitness regimen can help prevent issues while riding.

Another way to counteract pain from sustained positioning is frequently moving the body parts that are typically static during a ride. This can be achieved by changing hand holds every three to five minutes and stretching on breaks or after the ride.

Here are a couple examples of stretches. Perform each stretch for five to ten seconds, repeating five to ten times during each break from riding. Notice that while both stretches involve the hands, they are stretched in opposite directions during each one.

  

Trauma

While the injuries that occur with bike falls and collisions are as varied as the impacts, two common bones broken are the clavicle (collar bone) and the scaphoid (wrist bone near the thumb). Extending the arm to break a fall focuses forces on these bones leading to injury during impact. Along with potential fractures, the clavicle is also prone to sprain or separation, which could require at a minimum sling usage or surgery depending on severity.

A scaphoid fracture can be easily missed as the telltale sign of this fracture, pain in the thumb side of the wrist, might not be felt as severely initially as other injuries. It is important to be vigilant of an injury in this area, however, as a design flaw in the blood supply to the scaphoid can lead to serious issues including avascular necrosis (failure of bone to heal) and long term functional impairment if not treated early. This is why it is important to not ignore wrist pain after a bike fall.

While prevention of falls and broken bones may not be entirely possible, if the biker holds on to the handle bars while falling, the entire body can absorb the blow of the impact rather than focusing the impact on these two bones in the outstretched arm. Wearing a helmet can also make the need to protect the head less of an issue during a fall.

Enjoying the Ride

By being aware of some of the most common arm and hand-related bike injuries, you can take the necessary steps to prevent these injuries from occurring during your rides. Should an injury occur, schedule an appointment at a nearby Athletico location so that our Occupational Therapists can help you heal in time for the next ride.

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Can Exercise Help with Arthritis Pain?

By Tara Hackney, PT, DPT, OCS, KTTP for Athletico Physical Therapy

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis. The degenerative joint disease is due to a breakdown of cartilage. Arthritis can occur in many joints including the hands, hips, knees, lower back, neck and shoulders.

OA can cause pain, swelling and stiffness in joints. OA is a chronic condition and occurs over time as the cartilage in the joints wears away. OA is frequently associated with older age, but can start in your 20s or 30s. Due to the symptoms of OA, physical activity can become more difficult but exercise can actually help alleviate some of these symptoms.

How can exercise help improve symptoms of arthritis?

Exercise can help to improve joint pain and improve range of motion. The key to working out when you have OA is to select exercises that you can do comfortably and perform consistently. One of the most effective ways to reduce the pressure placed on your joints, especially those in the lower extremity, is to maintain a healthy weight. With each pound of excess weight lost, there is a four-fold decrease in the load on your joints.

Oftentimes, OA joint pain can make high impact activities, such as running, too painful. However there are low impact activities that are great options, including biking, swimming or walking. Those with joint pain may also see benefits from varying their routine – such as walking one day and switching to swimming the next day – to avoid joint overuse from repetition. It is important to note that it is recommended to consult with your doctor before starting a new workout routine or trying new exercises.

Tips for Exercising with Osteoarthritis

  • Yoga or Tai Chi
    • These activities can help improve balance and strengthen muscles that support the hip and knee joints.
  • Aquatic Classes
    • Exercising in water is great for those with moderate to severe OA pain. The water provides buoyancy and therefore less stress on the joints. The water is also usually warm which can help improve joint mobility.
  • Stretching
    • Stretching can help improve joint range of motion and relieve tight muscles that may be limiting joint range. Stretching should be performed both prior to and following a workout. Read, “Warming Up vs Cooling Down: Things to Know” to learn more about the benefits of stretching before and after activity.
  • Go Slow, Move Gentle
    • Exercise with slow and easy movements, and also move gently to warm your joints up. Performing range of motion exercises for 10 minutes is a great way to start a workout prior to progressing to aerobic or strengthening exercises. If you feel pain, take a break or back off.
  • Heat Before and Ice After
    • Heat can help relax the joints and muscles and can help you begin your workouts. Applying ice after a workout can help alleviate soreness and potential swelling in joints following activity.

Be Consistent

Keep in mind that a lack of exercise can actually make joints even more painful and stiff. When you do not exercise, the muscles that support your joints are weaker and can cause more stress on your joints.  Remember to trust your body and do not push your joints too far. Easing into a new routine and progressing slowly with intensity and duration is key. If you would like more guidance for workouts with arthritis, please find your local Athletico to request an appointment.

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