Weekend warrior.

It’s a term used often to describe those men and women who save their athletic endeavors for the end of each week, preferably when the sun is out and the temperature is just right.

Whether your talent is waterskiing, cycling, running or kayaking one thing can be certain — you are going to be sore come Monday morning.

These are the phone calls I often take at the beginning of the week as a physical therapist, complaining of some ‘inexplicable’ pain in the back/knee/ankle/shoulder that ‘sprang-up’ out of nowhere.

While this pattern promotes job security as a physical therapist, it can be readily avoided.

Train during the week

Even exercising 1-2 times during the week will help you avoid your aches and pains on Monday morning.

Training can be in your sport or activity but it doesn’t have to be.

Devoting 30 minutes a couple of times each week can save you weeks of rehabilitation.

Muscles and tendons respond to mild stress by increasing in size and thickness.

As a result, tissues that are trained are stronger and more resilient to physical stress.

Warm-up before you go

I repeat, WARM-UP BEFORE YOU GO. Even untrained muscles will respond better to physical stress if they are warm. A proper warm-up will consist of 5-10 minutes of movement that should result in you sweating.

This enables blood to be sent from the center of your body to the muscles of your arms and legs. Muscles and tendons that are warm are now better prepared to endure the physical stress from exercise. The net result is a decrease in the likelihood of injury.

Stretch afterwards

After exercise, muscles and tendons often tend to shorten. Stretching each muscle group for 30 seconds will help those tissues return to their normal length. Too often we finish our activity, hop in the car or plop on the couch afterwards.

Over time, tissues that progressively shorten are vulnerable to injury because they no longer have the ability to elongate over the joint(s) being used during activity.

Consequently, exercise or activity that had previously been pain free and routine now contributes to the formation of tendonitis or muscle/tendon strain.

Get your issue looked at

When you do experience pain after exercise, get it checked out. Mild strains should resolve within 7-10 days. Symptoms that continue beyond that time or keep recurring (after each weekend) should be examined by your healthcare provider, whether it be your physician or physical therapist.

Addressing the root cause of a minor problem initially prevents a major injury from occurring down the road.


Drinking 8-12 ounces of water 30 minutes before your activity will help your tissues tolerate the stress associated with exercise. Hydrating increases the water content in your muscles and tendons. This makes them more pliable and resistant to strain.

In addition, consuming water at the end you’re your workout will also help you flush out a buildup of lactic acid in your muscles. This helps alleviate delayed onset muscle soreness, which is the increased stiffness and pain from strenuous or unaccustomed exercise.

In summary, be proactive. Try taking some time each week to improve your level of fitness to prepare and recover from your weekends of athletic endeavors.

Jeff Smith, PT, DPT, OCS, CF-L1 is a board certified orthopedic physical at Northern Michigan Sports Medicine Center in Petoskey. He is also a Level 1 CrossFit Trainer at CrossFit Petoskey. Jeff can be reached at (231)347-9300 or jsmith@nmsportsmed.com.