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Preventing Weekend Warrior Injuries

The lure of the sun and less clothing in the summer is enough to get even the heartiest of couch potatoes moving. That extra activity is great for cardiovascular fitness, weight loss and toning, but it can all come to a screeching halt if you're struck with "weekend warrioritis.”

Even men who consider themselves in fairly good shape and up the ante with marathon (or even triathlon) training, softball leagues or camping trips can end up with weekend warrior injuries.

"Itis" indicates inflammation. Inflammation of tendons and bursa lead to pain and joint stiffness. Tendonitis and bursitis are treated by the acronym R.I.C.E: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Anti-inflammatory medication may also be taken.

Bicep Tendonitis

What it is: Pain in the front of the shoulder.

Associated with: Swimming, tennis, boxing, throwing, strength training.

Bicep tendonitis is caused by activities that require shoulder extension and rotation, or by putting stress on the bicep tendon at the shoulder. The tendonitis is caused by a shoulder instability and weakness along with a sudden increase in activity. The bicep tendon sits in the bicipital groove in the shoulder. While pressing on the front of your shoulder, roll your fist out away from your body (external rotation) and then bring your fist into your stomach (internal rotation). If you feel pain where you’re pressing, it’s very likely you have bicep tendonitis. It's important to balance every chest or shoulder exercise with two back exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff and rhomboids (the muscles that run between your scapulae).

Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

What it is: Inflamed tendons in the shoulder.

Associated with: Swimming, tennis, boxing, strength training.

The activities that can cause bicep tendonitis, as well as overhead activities, can also cause rotator cuff tendonitis since both conditions are caused by a weak rotator cuff. Improper exercise form (shoulder press directly overhead, lat pull down behind the head) can also cause rotator cuff tendonitis. The rotator cuff tendons run under the acromion (the bony point on top of your shoulder). Lifting your arm straight out in front or out to the side will cause pain, and the shoulder will feel stiff. That's because the inflamed tendons are rubbing against the bone or becoming trapped in the space (impingement). Chronic rotator cuff tendonitis can lead to a frozen shoulder, and if not treated can require unpleasant surgery and physical therapy.

Plantar Fasciitis

What it is: Inflammation on the bottom of the foot.

Associated with: Walking, running, jumping.

A day spent walking around and standing in line at the amusement park, a walk-a-thon or pick-up basketball game can have you hobbling the next morning. The plantar fascia is a thick sheath of fibrous tissue that runs from the heel and fans out across the bottom of the foot to the base of the toes. Improper shoes that do not provide enough arch support can lead to plantar fasciitis. It doesn't just plague flat-footed men; men with high-arches can also suffer from plantar fasciitis because weight distribution is uneven. There are commercial arch supports that you can wear (think Dr. Scholl’s) or if your condition is more serious, custom-made orthotics can be prescribed by your podiatrist. Stretching your foot by pulling up on your toes and doing calf and hamstring stretches daily can relieve — or prevent — the condition.


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Achilles Tendonitis

What it is: Inflamed tendon in the back of the heel and calf.

Associated with: Basketball, tennis, soccer, volleyball, walking.

The foot bone is connected to the ankle bone and that means plantar fasciitis can also be coupled with achilles tendonitis. Any activity that requires a lot of jumping, running, rapid start-and-stop motions, or change in directions can lead to this condition. It may feel stiff in the morning — like you can’t push off your toes while you walk. You might find yourself tip-toeing, which will slowly elicit pain. The achilles tendon will feel like it's grinding when you tip-toe or it will be "crunchy" to the touch; that’s the inflammation in the tendon. If achilles tendonitis is not treated, it can lead to an achilles tendon rupture.

Lateral Epicondylitis / Medial Epicondylitis

What it is: Tennis elbow / golfer’s elbow.

Associated with: Tennis, golf, baseball, softball.

Tennis elbow is pain on the outside of the elbow. Mimic the motion of a backhand in tennis and you can feel which tendon is effected. Golfer's elbow is pain on the inside of the elbow. Trying to keep up with the boys at the racquet club or taking advantage of the invite to the country club can lead to debilitating pain and stiffness in the elbow. The motions of the wrist and forearm in tennis, golf and baseball can cause irritation and swelling of the tendons of the wrist and forearm. Also, a weekend of home improvements can cause the elbow pain — the twisting motion of screwing and hammering nails can cause tennis elbow. Both conditions can effect grip strength and make turning door knobs difficult.

Trochanteric Bursitis

What it is: Inflamed bursa on the side of the hip.

Associated with: Running, walking, biking, stair climbing, martial arts.

Weekend Warriors who run, bike, hike, stair-climb, or do any activity with that motion can develop hip bursitis. The pain is felt on the outside of the hip on the point of the hip bone. The sudden increase of activity can irritate and inflame the bursa when the hip flexors pass over it. Hip (trochanteric) bursitis can also develop with Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITB Syndrome) or be misdiagnosed, although point tenderness is usually at the outside side of the knee in ITB Syndrome.

Prevent Tomorrow's Injuries Today

Weekend warrior injuries can be avoided, or made less severe, by increasing your activities slowly and using proper form, technique and equipment. Enlist the help of your physician, athletic trainer or physical therapist for exercises, stretches and treatment of the tendonitis and bursitis that can keep you off the playing field.