With the warmer weather upon us, it’s the perfect time to get back into a favorite outdoor activity or even try something new! Just remember that while exercise plays an important part in improving our general health and well being, it can also put wear and tear on our body that contributes to injuries. The good news is that there’s a lot you can do to help reduce your risk of injury. Follow these guidelines to set yourself up for success, and avoid the pain and frustration of an injury as get back into action this summer!
TREAT YOUR FEET RIGHT
Replace your shoes regularly A shoe loses arch support and shock absorption before the sole shows significant signs of wear, so don’t wait until the sole looks worn before you replace your shoes.
Wear the right kind of shoe for the activity and for your foot. If you over- pronate (flat footed) you need stability/arch support; if you have a high arch you need extra cushioning; wear a running shoe for running, and cross training shoe to the gym or for activities with lateral movement.
DO AN ACTIVE WARM UP
Get your blood pumping with exercises such as fast walking, running drills, jumping jacks, or skipping. You can even to a lighter/slower version of what you will be doing (referred to as sports specific activities).
Follow this with dynamic stretches that stretch the muscles through controlled movement. Walking lunges, arm swings, heels to bums, leg swings are good examples.
DON’T OVERDO IT
Take it slow and don’t go for gold on your first day! Give your body time to adapt as you increase what you are asking it to do slowly but surely.
Build in a day of rest. Give yourself a day off to promote recovery, or follow high intensity training days with a lower intensity day.
Listen to your body. Do not exercise through pain – it’s an indication that something’s wrong. If you feel pain, apply ice and rest the area for 2 -3 days. If the pain recurs or persists, see a health care professional. Early treatment can help prevent damage that causes chronic pain and long-term injuries.
CHANGE IT UP
Do a variety of sports and activities. Balance your high impact activities with lower impact activities, and strength training with stretching or yoga. If you’re
gardening today, mix it up with activities that do not involve bending or lifting tomorrow.
COOL DOWN WITH A STRETCH
Stretching helps maintain your joint range of motion and muscle flexibility.
This will help reduce your risk of injury.
Target the main muscles in your arms and legs. Hold stretches 30 seconds…and resist the urge to bounce! A stretch should never hurt.
CORE STRENGTHENING…MORE THAN JUST PLANKS & CRUNCHES
A good core strengthening program helps reduce wear and tear, and prevents injury. A weak core is often an underlying factor for injuries that seem to occur for no apparent reason.
Core strengthening can help break the cycle of chronic muscle tightness that contributes to injuries. Chronic muscle tightness develops when muscles are over-used as they attempt to compensate for weaker core muscles.
More is NOT always better. Doing more repetitions at the expense of good form is not only ineffective (because you’ll no longer be strengthening the correct muscles), but it’s also dangerous as you’re putting strains on your joints and muscles that lead to injury.
Work more than just your abdominals. Target the multifidus (small back muscles), and glutes as they work with your abdominals to protect you from injury. Include dynamic core exercises that challenge the core through controlled and functional movements so you develop strength that carries over into your activities and sports.
This is a beautiful time of the year that we all deserve to enjoy. We welcome patients to seek a movement screening and additional information on injury prevention no matter what your activity may be!