Guest article by Dr. Randall Wroble
You know you’re a weekend warrior if your first sign that Spring is here is when your softball buddy calls and tells you your first game is next week. It’s time to put down the beer, chips, and remote and time to get out your glove and spikes!
But… as you bend over to pick up your bat, that sudden jolt of pain in your back reminds you of how much time you spent on the couch over the winter. Then… you recall the hamstring pull when you ran to first base last year without warming up properly and the sore shoulder from throwing hard from the outfield that put you out of the game for three weeks. As you get older, your body goes through some changes: reaction time decreases, cartilage loses its effectiveness, tendons become less elastic and more prone to injury, injuries are more frequent, and injuries heal more slowly.
If you’re not fit, you’re not alone. Musculoskeletal injuries rank number one in physician office visits and cost the U.S. $215 billion and 147 million days of work yearly. Ideally you would stay in shape all year, but it’s not too late to start some basic conditioning now.
If you’ve really been lying around and haven’t had regular checkups, bring your physician along for the ride, or run, or match. Make an appointment to see your doctor and review your athletic plans.
Work for overall health and conditioning: do things like varying the intensity of your workouts, cross-train often, and make sure to focus on form, not formidability.
Put time on your side by becoming a fanatic about stretching. Do a general warm up to raise body temp by jogging, jumping rope, or riding a stationary bike. Then, stretch for 5-10 minutes. Stretch and hold 30 secondsand don’t bounce. Don’t forget to stay loose during idle periods as well.
Start and finish slowly. Drink plenty of fluids – preferably water, both during and after activity. Cool down when you’re done.
Make sure someone on the team knows first aid and that equipment for injury care is available – especially ice.
Forget “no pain, no gain.” Listen to your body. Stop or come out of the game if you’re hurting. See your physician if pain or swelling are severe or last more than 24 hours.