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Tips for weekend athletes from The Doctors

Published: Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 11:04 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 9:47 p.m. CDT

Doctors for USA WEEKEND

Fitting exercise in between work, kids and other commitments takes effort. That's why some people squeeze workouts in on weekends. Regular physical activity offers a long list of health benefits, from helping manage your weight to improving your mood. But overdoing it on a Saturday when you haven't worked out all week could raise your chances of injury. Achilles tendon tears, for example, are more likely in male recreational athletes than others, one recent study found. Tips to reduce your risk:

Warm up.

Begin with a progressive aerobic activity that uses the same muscles as your workout: If you run, try a slow jog, the American Council on Exercise suggests. Follow with stretching or flexibility exercises to increase muscle elasticity. To prevent Achilles tendon injuries specifically — more common during basketball, tennis or football — give your calf muscle a good stretch (feel a pull, not pain). Taking a few minutes can help you burn calories more efficiently, lessen fatigue, improve range of motion and protect from injury.

Eat carbs and protein.

That's a good mix pre- and post-workout. Carbs are the fuel your engine needs, and protein helps rebuild and repair, as well as make amino acids available to your muscles. Eat a few hours before your workout, then snack within 15 or 20 minutes after, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests.

Don't ignore heel pain.

A common cause is plantar fasciitis, which occurs when the thick band of tissue across the bottom of your foot becomes inflamed. Risk factors include improper shoes, repetitive impact exercises and new or increased activity. Left untreated, it may result in foot, knee, hip or back problems. If you feel a stabbing pain in your heel, talk to your doctor. About 90% of people improve with simple treatment: rest, ice, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication or physical therapy.

The Doctors is an Emmy-winning daytime TV show with pediatrician Jim Sears, OB-GYN Lisa Masterson, ER physician Travis Stork, plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon, health and wellness expert Jillian Michaels and psychologist Wendy Walsh. Check www.thedoctorstv.com for local listings.

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