This is the time of year when everyone is coming out of hibernation, stretching stiff, creaky joints, squinting at the sun that hasn’t been seen in months and thinking about getting back into a regular exercise program.
If you aren’t currently participating in a regular exercise program, check out my post on the benefits of exercise to get some inspiration and motivation as you get your body moving this spring.
Despite its benefits, getting back into an exercise routine after long periods of sitting on the couch can pose some hazards and put you at risk of injuries.
This same risk can exist for those who are in transition from one sport or exercise activity to another at this time of year.
Many of my patients are transitioning from hockey to soccer or baseball or from curling to golf. In the next few weeks, people will be eager to get out into their gardens as well which can lead to many springtime injuries.
For all of these springtime changes whether it be from the ‘Chips and Dip Plan’ back to activity or from one sport or exercise activity to another, the following tips will help to make sure that your transition is smooth and injury free:
1) If you are just beginning any exercise program, it is always recommended to get the OK from your health care provider.
2) Avoid the ‘Terrible Toos’: Too Much, Too Fast, Too Soon. These ‘terribles’ are the number one reason for injuries are and can easily be avoided by easing into new activities.
3) Follow the ‘10 Percent Rule’: You should never increase your weekly activity or any one workout by more than 10 percent over the previous week (or workout).
4) Find Balance in Your Exercise Activities: Mix up your workouts with cross training to include Cardio, Strength, Balance and Flexibility which will help to prevent injuries.
5) Warm Up: As we get older, the connective tissues and muscles around our joints are less flexible and less pliable than when we were younger. As a result, you can’t just stand up from sitting all day and jump right into your workout….you’ll get injured.
A 5-10 minute warm up will get blood pumping to your muscles and soft tissues and warm up your entire musculoskeletal system. As your body begins to generate heat, your connective tissues soften and become more pliable and are then less likely to suffer injuries.
Once your body is warm, you can then stretch out any tight spots before you begin your exercise activity or workout.
6) Take Lessons: If you are starting a new exercise activity or you are coming back to it after some time off, working with a coach or a trainer is a good idea to make sure you are doing the activity correctly which can lessen chance of injury.
7) Pay Attention to your Body: Your muscles and joints are your best resource to avoid injuries. If you listen to your body it will tell you when you are crossing the line from hurt (which can be normal during exercise bouts) into harm.
8 ) Follow the 48 hour Rule: It is normal to have delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) for up to 48 hours after an exercise bout. If you have pain that last longer than 48 hours that isn’t getting better, check in with your health care provider.
As the season is changing and spring is peaking out from under winter’s drabness, it is time to get off the couch, get outside and get moving. By following a few simple tips, you will be able to reap the many benefits of a regular exercise program while avoiding injuries.
Dr. Peggy Malone is a Chiropractor and an Athlete who helps other athletes to overcome injury and get back to their sport. She also inspires patients from all walks of life to take control of their health to be as happy and as healthy as they can be.
A former varsity Basketball and Rugby player, she has since entered the world of endurance athletics where she has completed 2 Ironman Triathlons, 3 Marathons, several Half Marathons and many other Triathlons, Road Races and Off-Road Adventure races of varying distances.
Her own athletic endeavors and injuries have given her valuable insight into working with athletes in her practice for both the care of injuries as well as for the improvement of athletic performance.