Dr Soon Yee Hoong Michael
You are all pumped and raring to hit the tennis court on a bright Saturday morning, but are you really ready for action after a week of inactivity?
If you are a "weekend warrior", it is important to be aware of injuries that could happen due to sudden bursts of physical activity. Dr Michael Soon, an orthopaedic surgeon at Mount Elizabeth Hospital, says the body takes time to adjust from a sedentary to an active mode.
Many people just jump straight into their weekly soccer and basketball games. This is a major injury risk. It is important to properly warm up and cool down before and after you exercise, a common way of doing so is by stretching. Stretching exercises helps to prevent injuries to your muscles, tendons and ligaments.
It is recommended to do your warm-up exercise 10 minutes before you start an intensive workout to help prepare your body for an intensive session ahead. Similarly, stretching post-workout helps your body slow down and give your muscles a chance to recover to a stagnant stage.
"Going too far, too fast and too quickly will overload any tissue not used or not adapted to a certain level of activity. You need to gradually step up the intensity over time," says Dr Soon.
He advises weekend warriors to set realistic expectations on their workout routines and intensity to what their bodies can take without overexerting. One of the most common pitfalls for weekend warriors is overexertion, which could lead to a myriad of problems such as back sprain, sprained ankles and ligament tears.
For those who do not exercise regularly, the body may be more prone to injuries such as a sprained ankle, or an ACL injury. This is more common for contact sports such as basketball and soccer, where the joints are subject to high impact.
Such injuries are usually caused in one of two ways.
"The first is traumatic, where a large force is applied suddenly. For example, when you fall during a tackle, you may injure / tear an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or a posterior cruciate ligament (PCL); or you may dislocate a shoulder," explains Dr Soon. A common knee ligament injury is a torn ACL, which is one of the main stabilising ligaments in the knee. In serious cases, surgery may be required to replace the torn ACL with a tissue graft from another part of the body.
The second is repetitive, where a small amount of force is applied again and again, over and over, leading to tissues becoming inflamed and even osteoarthritis in the knee. Examples of this include running, where runners pound the road for long distances. Serious cases of osteoarthritis can result in debilitating pain and difficulty in walking. In these cases, a total knee replacement can be performed, where the diseased joint is replaced by an artificial joint.
For those hurt during sports, physiotherapy may be necessary. This could involve a series of strengthening exercises; the application of hot and cold packs, or other therapy techniques.
In the case of a sprained ankle, for example, it is important to perform ankle rotation exercises to prevent any loss of flexibility or strength and also minimise the chance of a repeat injury.
According to Dr Soon, injury prevention should be top priority for anyone participating in weekend workout sessions. After all, it is far easier – and less complicated – to stop injuries, such as sprained ankles, from happening than to treat them after. However, it is also important when suffering from an injury, no matter how minor, to consult a doctor, especially if the pain persists for a week or more.