It may be inevitable: After being at work all day, you play too hard (and maybe consume too many adult beverages) and find yourself debating a trip to urgent care after your ankle begins to swell. After-work athletes are susceptible to injury, especially if they're new to a sport or reintroducing certain types of activity into their lives. Morell Crane, physical therapist and co-owner of Crane Rehab Center, offers a few tips for weekend warriors looking to prevent sprains and other common injuries.
Knees and ankles are vulnerable. "The two most common (injuries) that we see are knees and ankles," Crane says. "Following that would probably be shoulder overuse injuries that you'll see in golf, tennis, throwing sports like softball leagues and even sometimes in swimming."
Don't skip the warm-up. "The research indicates that one of the best ways to prevent injury on the field is a good warm-up," he says. "That doesn't necessarily mean stretching. It can be jumping jacks [or] a light jog to get blood flow to the muscles and that can be followed by some general muscle stretching."
Conditioning is key. "It's the pre-training that people may or may not do, particularly if they're weekend athletes, to keep their muscles in shape," Crane says. "That's regular exercise and eating right."
RICE is good for you. "The mnemonic RICE — rest, ice, compression, elevation — is the best general rule," he says.
If you can't bear weight on an injured limb, it's time to see a professional. "A general rule of thumb, particularly with lower extremities, is can you bear weight on the extremity? If you can't, that usually means it's going to require more attention," he says.
Seeing a professional may prevent further complications from a sports injury. "It's not necessarily a bad idea to consult a health care professional because there are ways that these injuries heal and there are ways to facilitate proper healing, versus just allowing them to heal (on their own) but maybe having an issue that will catch up with you later," Crane says.