WHAT IS A WEEKEND WARRIOR?
“A weekend warrior is 1) A person who participates in a physically strenuous activity only on weekends or part-time, or 2) A homeowner who acts as a contractor and tries to do major improvement projects on weekends (often without understanding the scope of the work to be done).”
In today’s busy society, many of us are expected to be completely focused on work and family during the week. It is understandable that we then want to maximise our time on the weekend in the garden, doing jobs around the house or playing sport, either for fitness, relaxation or recreation with friends and family. It can be a great way to have a change of pace both mentally and physically, but there are times when our body abruptly lets us down and we end up spending the weekend in a lot of pain as a result of these “Weekend Warrior” activities.
At Walkerville Chiropractic, we will often get calls on Monday morning from our weekend warriors, desperate to get an urgent appointment, to try to fix the damage caused during these adventures.
Let’s discuss how these injuries can occur, what we can do about them, and then go through some strategies for preventing them in the future.
HOW DID I HURT MY BACK?
Low back injuries occur when the force applied to it is greater than the strength of the bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles and discs. There is a wide variety of things that can cause a failure of these tissues. For example. repetitive motion can break down microfibres in the tissues and make them inherently weaker over time. Changes in disc pressure can also lead to injuries. The lowest pressure occurs when you lay on your back. When you stand up, it increases a bit more, then sitting increases it even more, and finally when you bend over, the pressure it at its greatest. We have all heard people say “I just bent over to do up my shoes and I felt my back go out”. It is highly unlikely that this simple activity alone made their back go out. It was probably due to a combination of the microtraumas from repeatedly bending wrong, and the increase in pressure in the discs from bending forward. And to that a twisting motion while you are already in a bent position, and you’ve got yourself a low back injury!
Certain times of the day are also more vulnerable for your back. Disc bending stresses are increased by 300% and ligaments by 80% in the morning and after sitting for prolonged periods of time. If you need to do any bending or lifting during these times, it is especially important to warm your back up.
It is important to condition tissues in the low back before you start any type of physical activity, whether it is gardening or exercising. Conditioning includes stretching, balanced strengthening, adequate rest and using forces that are not excessive.
A lot of times, back injuries aren’t just caused by weak back muscles, but also by weak abdominal muscles, and other deep muscles that help with rotation. All your core muscles need to be balanced, and work together to move your body. Even super strong body builders can have the problem of over-working their abdominals, and not working their low back muscles enough. Their core is totally out of balance and they can easily throw their back out. It is important to include spinal stabilisation and abdominal strengthening exercises in your routine.
WHAT DO I DO ABOUT IT?
If you are in pain, but you can move the injured area reasonably well and can tolerate some pressure, you can go to a chiropractor as soon as possible. At the chiropractic clinic, the chiropractor will discuss your case history (ie what happened and what may have cause the injury) and examine the injured area. If damage to the tissues is suspected, they may decide that x-rays should be taken. They will decide if it looks like an injury situation that can be treated at their office or whether you require further investigation or medical intervention.
If you feel like you “tweaked” something, but it is not too painful, you should still get to a chiropractor for an evaluation. It is important to get smaller injuries corrected before they become big problems. Any misalignment of the bones can lead to postural changes and muscle imbalance. This sets you up for more injuries in the future. Remember, the earlier we can commence the proper treatment, the more likely it is that you will recover as quickly as possible.
ICE OR HEAT?
As a general rule of thumb, any new injury should have ICE and not heat. Heat will make an area more inflamed, and your goal after an injury is to decrease swelling and inflammation to decrease pain and speed healing. You can’t really do too much damage to an area if you ice it when you are not supposed to but you can cause damage if you use heat when you are not supposed to. In any case, you should still be evaluated by a chiropractor so that the problematic areas of the spine can be adjusted, and he or she will tell you if you should be using ice or heat.
HOW DO I PREVENT FURTHER INJURIES IN THE FUTURE?
(1) Take a 10-15 minute brisk walk to get some blood flowing through your body and some movement into your joints,
(2) Stretch your muscles after you’ve warmed up. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds, NEVER BOUNCE and remember to breathe during each stretch**.
Perform your aerobic workout, or your household activities, and then stretch again as part of your cooldown.
(**Stretching will improve performance and help prevent injury. Never bounce when you stretch, as this can cause injury. Consult your chiropractor or certified personal trainer for a stretching routine that meets your particular health status and goals.)
(3) For gardening or housework, be sure to stretch the upper body and shoulder muscles to avoid any repetitive motion injuries
(4) Remember when lifting to bend at the knees and hold heavier weight objects closer to the body to avoid injuries
If you have sustained a Weekend Warrior Injury, don’t despair. We’re here to help, so feel free to call us on 8344 7105 to get you back in shape as soon as possible.