Warm, sunny days are made for playing basketball, tennis, and other outdoor sports. But if you haven’t been exercising regularly, or if you’re at an age where you might be losing muscle mass or bone mass, it’s smart to be cautious when engaging in high-intensity activities.
To prevent those so-called “weekend warrior” injuries, check out these six tips:
The human body loves movement, but you can’t go straight from couch to court expecting your game to be varsity level. Plus, trying to do explosive and powerful movements without properly warming up your muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments puts you at serious risk of injury.
Be disciplined and commit to a 5 to 10-minute warm-up before any activity. Focus on simple movements that get your heart rate a little elevated and your tissues warm, like jumping jacks, arm circles, leg swings, a brisk walk, or jogging in place.
Before a workout (but after your warm-up), consider doing dynamic stretches (like forward bends, side lunges, or a couple of simple yoga moves) to help prepare your tissues for the demands of exercise. Save static stretches for after your workout so you can work on improving your range of motion in the areas you need it most.
Proper footwear can prevent slips and falls and help your body absorb forces as you run, pivot, and jump. So skip the open-toed shoes, worn-down sneakers, and unsupportive flats. For higher-intensity activities, you will do better with sturdy soles and arch supports.
Do you know you have a weak ankle or a history of ankle sprains? How about repetitive wrist pain? If so, talk to a physical therapist or related provider who can offer you some advice on braces. For some people, wearing a brace during vigorous exercise can reduce injury and provide the additional support you need to perform well.
Alcohol can mask symptoms of pain, and pain is an important clue that it’s time to take a break. Alcohol can also embolden people to take unnecessary risks. And if exercising when hungover, your reaction time and decision-making may be lowered, further increasing your risk of injury.
Even if you were a standout athlete in the past, don’t assume you can pick up where you left off. Yes, you may need to swallow your pride a bit here, but if it means playing at your current level and avoiding injury, then it’s worth the extra precaution. One example: shoot some hoops with a friend before jumping into a game of five-on-five! When you can’t prevent an injury, find a professional who can help you treat it effectively and efficiently! Call the Center for Pain Management at 317-706-7246 to schedule an appointment with one of our pain specialists.