With Memorial Day—the unofficial start of summer—just behind us, many of us are gearing up for outdoor fun and maybe even a little healthy competition. Some of us try to relive the glory days of high school or college sports, even when those days are years (or decades!) behind us.
Adult weekend athletes tend to have more than their fair share of mishaps and injuries. But this does not have to be the case. Some self-care and a little preparation can go a long way toward feeling good, performing your best, and not getting sidelined from your summer fun!
PACE Yourself to Stay Active This Summer
High-contact or low-impact, every sport requires some level of power, agility, control, and endurance—PACE! Before you go all-out, ask yourself a few questions:
- Power – What movements will you use to blast off from a stationary position or suddenly pour on the extra juice (energy or force)?
- Agility – What sudden changes of movement could take place, including unexpected ones?
- Control – When will you have to suddenly slow down or control your speed or that of another object, keep your balance, or change direction?
- Endurance – What movements will you need to perform over an extended period of time?
Use PACE to consider each of these practical areas to boost your performance and reduce your risk of injury.
PACE before You Take the Field or Hit the Course
PACE-ing yourself starts before the whistle blows or the ball is teed up. Here’s what I recommend my clients do to get ready to work out.
- Warm up your muscles before your events and activities to improve blood flow, fuel your muscles with oxygen, and wake up your body’s entire communication system so it can receive information about your physical demands and respond appropriately. Take 10 minutes before your event to perform all the PACE movements you’ll do on the field at a slower pace and with smaller movements.
- Stretch your muscles so they aren’t tight when you start your event. Tight muscles can’t contract as effectively to generate the force you’ll need to perform well. Tight muscles can also inhibit other muscles from doing their jobs. For example, if the muscles in the front of your hip are tight, your gluteal muscles cannot perform as well or quickly.
- Prep your core so your arms and legs have a firm foundation to work from. Try throwing an air punch with your posture sloppy and your core muscles lax—not a great outcome, right? Now, straighten up, press your shoulders back and down, and throw the punch again. You feel more solid and experience less joint stress. If your core musculature is contracting efficiently and automatically before each movement, every action you take will be stronger, faster, more efficient, and less stressful for your joints.
- Self-care is incredibly important for weekend warriors. Do whatever it is you need to do before and after your event to make sure you’re meeting your body’s demands. Ace wraps and taping give joints and muscles extra support. Drink plenty of water to flush out waste and stay hydrated. Use heat, massage, therapeutic-grade oils, and tiger balm to prepare tight muscles and ice to reduce swelling and relieve tired, stressed joints. Use ibuprofen and other NSAIDS sparingly and as a last resort.
Before you get into your summer weekend warrior routine, take a moment to PACE yourself. Your body will thank you for it, and you’ll likely avoid spending most of your time on the bench. Check out our blog next week to learn how to apply PACE to your weekend warrior activities. Contact TiPS for more injury prevention tips.