Busy lives make weekend warriors. As we get older, the responsibilities that are placed upon us during the week decreases the amount of spare time available. We look to the weekend to get in our hobbies both leisure and competitive. Whether it’s a pick up game of basketball at the local court, a weekly scheduled 3 v 3 soccer match, or a 40 mile bike ride, the weekend is typically the only time we are able to do these activities.
Is this safe? Can we reasonably expect our bodies to handle the demands placed on them during these strenuous activities without training more consistently? In order to perform like an athlete you need to train like an athlete. To expect our bodies to be ready for a weekend basketball game or long bike ride after a week of sitting at a computer for work is naive at best and ignorant at worst. If our bodies aren’t ready, injuries occur.
Does this mean you need to play multiple basketball games or soccer games during the week? No. This does mean you need to take the movements required of you in these activities and perform them during the week. Many may think that their workout routines are functional to their weekend activities. Strength training with multi joint movements including squatting, deadlifts, and lunges are great ways to stay strong. Going for runs 2-3 times a week is a great way to improve and maintain your cardiovascular endurance. However, can both of these types of exercises be applied to participating safely in a task such as soccer or basketball over the weekend? Not entirely.
Strength training and endurance training are great ways to stay fit and are necessary to participate in activities such as the weekend soccer or basketball game. However, these more dynamic and jarring activities place excessive demands on the body. Weekend sports can challenge the body’s ability to generate power, balance, change of direction, accelerate, decelerate, and ability to both jump and land safely. These activities require you to move, and control, your body through multiple planes of motion that are not typically performed during regular workouts. You need to move forward, backwards, and sideways. Your trunk needs to rotate and twist quickly as you reach for the rebound. If sports that we perform on the weekend involve these demands, shouldn’t these demands be part of our weekly exercise routine?
The incorporation of functional and sports specific training decreases the risk of injury. If you challenge your body in a variety of planes, it can be ready when the demand arises. I will repeat: In order to perform like an athlete, you need to train like an athlete.
One study showed that adding proprioceptive exercises can reduce the risk of ankle sprains1. Proprioception is your body’s awareness of position and it’s movement in space. Proprioceptive activities focus on balance both statically and dynamically. This can mean single leg squats, lunge variations, controlled landing after jumping sideways, or working on ball drills standing on an uneven surface.
Another study looking at the addition of anaerobic interval training and sport specific training to Australian rules football players exercise routine reduced the risk of hamstring strains. This can include short sprints, lateral shuffles, agility ladders, and box jumps This study states that the role of training in relation to injury reduction is to train “as the game is played”2. Are you starting to see a trend?
Incorporating activities that improve neuromuscular control has been shown to reduce the likelihood of knee injuries3. Neuromuscular control is your body’s ability to control and coordinate movement through all planes of motion. Furthermore, participating in a training program that combines flexibility, strength, balance, core training and plyometrics has shown to reduce the likelihood of ACL injuries4.
There are multiple studies that show incorporating a variety of functional and sport specific tasks to your training regimen can reduce the risk of injury. However, I recognize that you are “weekend warriors”, not professional, college, or high school athletes with pre-seasons and practices. How can you incorporate these types of activities into your weekly exercise routines?
A regime of activities focusing on balance, plyometrics, and agility can be added into your regular strength and mobility programs with positive results. You can try adding in squat jumps, shuttle runs, single leg balance while dribbling a basketball, carioca, or sideways jumping into your routines. You can cycle through lunge variations, agility drills, or soccer drills. Starting to incorporate these tasks multiple times a week can help prepare you for your weekend adventures.
Below, our physical therapist Tom demonstrates a series of sport specific and functional training exercises you can try at home!
Contact The Fit Institute to learn more about adding functional and sport specific training into your routine or visit us at thefitinstitutechicago.com!
1: Rivera MJ, Winkelmann ZK, Powden CJ, Games KE. Proprioceptive Training for the Prevention of Ankle Sprains: An Evidence-Based Review. J Athl Train. 2017;52(11):1065‐1067. doi:10.4085/1062-6050-52.11.16
2: Verrall GM, Slavotinek JP, Barnes PGThe effect of sports specific training on reducing the incidence of hamstring injuries in professional Australian Rules football playersBritish Journal of Sports Medicine 2005;39:363-368.
3: Dargo L, Robinson KJ, Games KE. Prevention of Knee and Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries Through the Use of Neuromuscular and Proprioceptive Training: An Evidence-Based Review. J Athl Train. 2017;52(12):1171‐1172. doi:10.4085/1062-6050-52.12.21
4: “Exercise-Based Knee and Anterior Cruciate Ligament … – jospt.” 31 Aug. 2018, https://www.jospt.org/doi/abs/10.2519/jospt.2018.0303. Accessed 19 May. 2020.