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HealthWatch: Avoiding 'Weekend Warrior' Injuries

We All Have Excuses Why We Can't Work Out During The Week, But Overdoing It On Days Off Is Not Solution

WCBS-TV—May 1, 2009

Long hours at the office, kids at home, community meetings -- they all leave little time for working out. So when the weekend arrives some people hit the gym, and hit it hard. But being a "weekend warrior" can lead to serious injuries.

"I have a very heavy work schedule and a lot of commitments, and I do often have a lot of trouble finding the time during the week to work out. So, I do, I hit it hard on the weekend," Rubenstein said.

Rubenstein is what's called a "weekend warrior." The term is for people who do extreme exercise on the weekends after a sedentary job of 40-plus hours a week.

"I'd like to try to get as much as I can," Rubenstein said. "My friends and I play basketball or tennis on the weekend or whatever we can find to do."

But this can be a recipe for disaster. Due to a drastic change in physical stress on the body, workweek to weekend, "warriors" often experience soft tissue injuries, strains and sprains or worse.

"I just got hurt, I hurt my knee, and tried to push through it a little bit and realized that it was a little more serious than I thought," Rubenstein said.

Robert Maschi is a senior physical therapist at Hospital for Special Surgery.

"In order to compete at high-level activities you need to put in the time and really develop a nice strength base, in order to perform at higher levels and to compete without getting hurt," Maschi said.

People with sports injuries are the No. 2 group coming into the doctor's office right behind those complaining of a cold. Maschi said gradual conditioning is the solution.

"You should start with some gentle strengthening, flexibility exercises to prepare yourself to take on greater demands," Maschi said.

Stretching for 15 minutes before exercise and 10 minutes after will also keep injuries at bay.

Rubenstein is on the road to recovery and is hanging up his "weekend warrior" ways.

"At least two to three times, Monday through Friday, I'm there at the gym doing my whole workout, doing all the stretch routines, the strengthening stuff," Rubenstein said.

If you can't find time to workout, take the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car a couple blocks from work, and get up from your desk every 20 minutes.

Leading an active lifestyle protects you from heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Rubenstein said he hopes to be fully recovered in time to run a marathon in Anchorage, Alaska this June.



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