Are you a weekend warrior? Do you enjoy participating in competitive sports for fun and relaxation? At times, do you put extra strain on your body while competing? If so, you may suffer some weekend warrior woes.
“I think of a weekend warrior as someone who is out of high school or college, and still enjoys competitive sports and lives an active lifestyle,” explained Douglas Connor, M.D., Sports Medicine Physician with ThedaCare Orthopedic Care. “There are many activities people enjoy – running, biking, cross-fit activities, boot camps, tennis and golfing, for example – that are competitive. It’s great to have the goal to enjoy a sport and remain physically fit.”
Dr. Connor noted that weekend warriors sometimes see injuries caused by overuse. He added that understanding how to prepare and recover after weekend activities is key.
“When people push their limits, push through pain to perform at a higher level, that’s when the balance between training and performance can get upset and overuse injuries can develop,” said Dr. Connor. “Knee, hip, and foot and ankle pain are common. A recreational athlete is likely to stop and say, ‘That doesn’t feel good, I’m going to take a break,’ whereas the weekend warrior may push through the pain to stay competitive.”
He noted plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, patellar tendinitis, knee pain, hip tendinitis and back pain as relatively common problems. Dr. Connor said one of the first things he talks about with a new patient is their sports activity and their training regimen.
“I ask about their training intensity, the duration of their activity and how hard they’re working,” he explained. “With runners and bikers, those who might be running half-marathons or biking for longer distances, it’s easy to determine their workload because we can talk about miles and speed. With other sports, it can be a bit more difficult. I ask about their prior history of activity to determine if they are doing too much, too soon or too fast/hard. Reasonable training goals are important to prevent overuse injuries.”
Dr. Connor said he recommends that weekend warriors patriciate in cross training.
“Weekend warriors tend to get into their one activity – whether it be biking, running, cross fit and that’s all they do,” he said. “When someone goes out for a run they tend to run at the same pace all the time. When they’re doing the same thing all the time, that’s when they can get into overuse problems. If we have them do a different activity once or twice a week, we may be able to calm down the joint that’s causing problems and limit the overuse injury.”
They should also focus on their warm up and recovery, which can help prevent injuries.
“In addition to warming up, the cool down is just as important,” he said. “Spend a few minutes doing some stretching exercises. I often tell a weekend warrior that the first 30 minutes after a workout are a key time to rehydrate, refuel and rehab. After any workout activity it’s important to restore fluids – to rehydrate. Refueling – eating a healthy snack or meal – is also important because your body will preferentially direct nutrition into the muscles that are trying to rebuild after a workout. And then if you can spend some time doing a rehab – prevention-type activities such as stretching or core exercises – that’s really important.”
When Is It Time to See a Doctor?
Dr. Connor wants patients to feel empowered to see a provider when they have an acute injury. Those injuries should not be ignored.
“For example, if you hurt your knee in some kind of activity and there is swelling, bruising, and you can’t put weight on it, you need to be seen by your provider,” he said. “If you’re able to do your normal day-to-day life activities without any difficulties, that may be a scenario where you give the joint time to rest to see if it improves.”
The trickier question is a potential overuse injury.
“I tell people if they can’t do the routine things they need to do from a job standpoint or at home, then seeing a provider is important,” he said. “For the patient who is in the situation of ‘I’m fine with it in everyday life, but it hurts a lot when I’m trying to do my sport,’ that may be a situation where you try to give the injury a bit of rest. If it’s not better after a couple of weeks, then contact your provider.”
Dr. Connor stressed that rest is more than skipping a run or going half speed.
“Resting from your activity to allow an injury to heal probably requires a week or two of just not doing it,” he said. “If you absolutely have to be doing something physical because that’s your stress relief, you may alternate with some other cross-training activity that doesn’t cause you pain or discomfort. Maybe we can get you onto a recumbent bike or into a pool for swimming where there’s less impact on the injury site.”
Physical therapy (PT) can be an option for many people, too.
Looking Ahead: ThedaCare Medical Center–Orthopedic, Spine and Pain
Dr. Connor is enthusiastic about ThedaCare Medical Center–Orthopedic, Spine and Pain, which is expected to open soon. This will be the region’s only comprehensive health center specializing in orthopedic, spine and pain care. The 230,000 sq. ft. Center includes a medical office building, specialty surgery center, and orthopedic and spine hospital with 25 in-patient beds, as well as support services, such as imaging, lab, retail pharmacy and dining, for total patient care at a single destination. The services offered will enhance access to specialized experts, where care teams understand each person’s unique medical background, lifestyle and personal goals, getting patients back to living their best life, sooner.
Among the many unique features at ThedaCare Medical Center–Orthopedic, Spine and Pain, patients will benefit from surgery suites with the latest technology, private recovery rooms and state-of-the-art physical therapy equipment and facilities.
“Our therapy facilities will include a regulation pitcher’s mound, a turf area, basketball court and more,” he said. “We can create videos of an athlete’s technique, which we can slow down, and then discuss areas of opportunity for improvement. The technology will help us provide better care for our athletes and our patients.”
The new facility will allow patients to access even greater integrated care. From the initial consultation to surgery, recovery and rehabilitation – it will all be available at the new location, which will make treatment even more comprehensive and convenient for patients.
ThedaCare Medical Center–Orthopedic, Spine and Pain is expected to open in Summer 2022.
For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health of the communities it serves in northeast and central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to more than 600,000 residents in 18 counties and employs approximately 7,000 health care professionals. ThedaCare has 180 points of care, including seven hospitals. As an organization committed to being a leader in Population Health, team members are dedicated to empowering people to live their best lives through easy access to individualized care, supporting each person’s own health and wellbeing. ThedaCare also partners with communities to understand unique needs, finding solutions together, and encouraging health awareness and action. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health system with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs, as well as primary care.
For more information, visit thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on social media. Members of the media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public and Media Relations Consultant at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.