Injury Prevention for the Weekend Warrior

-  Submitted by Loudoun Physical Therapy

If you're like me, life can be pretty busy. Between work and life responsibilities, I don't have a lot of spare time during my week. But that doesn't mean I'm going to give up doing what I love. My friends and I play either racquetball, basketball, or a game of pick-up rugby at least once a week if we can, but there's not a whole lot else that we do to support the demands these sports put on our bodies. That's a recipe for us “Weekend Warriors” to get injured so it's important to practice healthy habits in order to prevent injury down the road.

Practicing healthy habits will prevent injury down the road.

The recommendations I'm going to pass on come from information that I learned during graduate school to obtain my Doctor of Physical Therapy and my Strength and Conditioning Specialty, CSCS.

It is recommended to block-in approximately 20 minutes prior to a bout of activity for a comprehensive warm-up designed to improve your performance and avoid unnecessary injury. The purpose of a well-done warm-up is to improve your body's ability to meet the demands of a specific task by:

START with a general warm up. This consists of ~5-10 mins of slow activity, such as jogging, skipping, or dribbling a soccer ball. The purpose of this phase is to increase heart rate, breathing rate, and blood flow.

NEXT is a specific warm up. This consists of ~8-12 mins of dynamic stretching that involves the ranges of motion required for your sport, such as walking with knee lift, lunge walk, arm swings, sprint drills, bounding, jumping. The purpose of this phase is to gradually progress your body's tolerance to the demands of what's about to come (the sport itself). A key reminder here is to gradually increase body temperature without causing noticeable fatigue. Generally, perform each 5-10 times with progressive increases in attempted range each time. Do not sacrifice good technique for additional movement! It's important to note that the duration of this phase should vary based on the intensity of the sport you're about to play. Meaning, the goal to sprint when playing football should require a longer, more specific warm-up than the goal to jog or go cycling.

PERFORM the sport!

END with static stretching. This form of stretching should be performed at the end, as research supports that prior to sport participation this can compromise overall sport performance, due to effects reducing reaction time, endurance, speed, power, and force production.The purpose of this phase is to capitalize on your achievements from sport performance and cool-down your body as it prepares to rest. This consists of remaining still with gentle stretching of larger muscle groups, such as hamstrings, quads, or pecs. Hold each end position for 2-3 times, 30 seconds each.

A trained Physical Therapist can provide you with a comprehensive evaluation.

I hope you find this information valuable and incorporate it into your routine this weekend. If you have particular questions about return-to-sport or would like an individual assessment, seek a trained Physical Therapist near you for a comprehensive evaluation.


To learn more about injury prevention & treatment, please click here.

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