Tips for the weekend warrior on avoiding injuries

As the snow begins to melt and spring approaches, so-called weekend warriors are heading outdoors to try and get in shape for summer activities.

Pushing 'too hard' and 'too fast'

But Dr. Raj Bhardwaj cautions that even though it may be frustrating to ease into a training regiment, pushing yourself "too hard" and "too fast" can lead to some serious injuries.

"The injury is a potential risk just because the difference from your general fitness level to what you're expecting your body to do at peak is a big gap. And, the narrower you can make that gap, the better," explained Bhardwaj, a Calgary-based family physician and urgent care doctor, on CBC Moncton's Information Morning.

"And, you can do that by increasing your general fitness level or you can do that by decreasing the peak that you're demanding your body to perform at."

To help reduce the risk of injury, Bhardwaj advises that people listen to their bodies and stop an activity if in pain. Other tips include warming up before an activity and stretching afterwards and having realistic training goals.

Warming up, working on balance

Bhardwaj also reminds people that simply because someone spent the winter riding a bicycle, that doesn't mean they are ready to run a marathon since both activities use different muscles. 

Other keys to avoiding injury include having the proper equipment and working on balance, he said. 

"We see a lot of broken ankles and sprained ankles and broken wrists from people losing their balance and falling funny."

Bhardwaj works on his balance by brushing his teeth while standing on one foot in the morning and then switching to the other foot before bedtime.

"It feels weird and people who walk by look at me funny, but they're used to it by now," he said.

Despite the injury risks, Bhardwaj notes that exercising or playing sports on the weekend is beneficial to reducing the risk of premature death by about 30 per cent.

"At least get out on the weekend," he said. "You'll still have fun, hopefully, and reduce your risk of premature death."

Listen to the full interview.