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“Weekend Warriors” Warm Up to a New Season of Sports: Three Tips to Avoid Serious Athletic Injuries

May 04, 2011

CHICAGO — Break out the running shoes, volleyball, golf clubs and baseball bat. Weekend warriors are gearing up for another season of outdoor athletics.

But unless they warm up to the idea of intensified exercise, they might land on the sidelines injured or head to the hospital for treatment. More than 2.5 million Americans are faced with that fate every year.

Beyond the aches and pains of athletics, the most common injuries occur to the shoulder, elbow and knee; and more often than not, they involve sprains, fractures and dislocations. More serious injuries include shin splints, elbow tendonitis, meniscus cartilage injuries, ACL tears and Achilles tendonitis. Many athletes also suffer from lower back pain, often the result of tight hamstrings and leg injuries. 

To avoid the ER or urgent care clinic, Dr. Preston Wolin, orthopedic surgeon and director of sports medicine at the Chicago Center of Orthopedics at Weiss Memorial Hospital, suggests weekend warriors keep three rules in mind:

  • Get in shape before the season starts. Start slow with shorter workouts and build up to quicker movements and greater endurance. Muscles dormant through the winter months need time to strengthen and adjust to intense workouts again.
  • Understand the difference between soreness and pain. Sore muscles are inevitable when they are exercised, so work through it and keep up the activity level. Pain in joints or muscles can indicate an injury and means medical attention is needed.
  • Seek a sports medicine physician when injured. Sports medicine specialists work to get athletes back in the game and keep them there instead of insisting they sit out the season.

“Taking these precautions should minimize injury and help you heal faster for any sport,” Dr. Wolin added. “If the injury is serious, we’re here to give patients treatment options that work for them.”

For more information on preventing orthopedic injuries or treatments, visit the Chicago Center for Orhtopedics at Weiss or call (888) 503-ORTHO to find a physician.