Spring has finally sprung, and if you are like me you are ready to break the cabin fever and get out and about – whether it be taking care of yard work, starting an exercise routine, or being the weekend warrior playing church league softball. Many people become overzealous with their ambitions to get things done and forget about taking care of their number one: their bodies! Too many times we see people who have strained their back from heavy lifting or bending over in the garden to John Smith chasing after a ball and pulling his hamstring. Either way, many injuries can be prevented with the right warm up and stretching routine. Yeah yeah, I know who has time for that? Taking that five to ten extra minutes will help your body thank you later!
Listed below are a few tips to help reduce the risk of those aches and pains:
- Warm-up: Warming up before physical activity allows the body to adequately adjust and prepare for the demand and exertion about to be placed on it. Warming up helps to slowly increase your heart rate as well as allowing the muscles time to warm up by increasing circulation.
- Stretch: As stated above our muscles need adequate time to warm up but they also need to be stretched. Stretching helps muscles become more flexible, increase range of motion, and reduce risk of microtrauma as well as more significant tears and strains. Some studies show that adequately stretching can increase strength and endurance. Reminder: Don’t stretch cold muscles! Always warm-up before stretching!
- Use proper form: Easier said than done, I know! When lifting something remember to squat down like you are sitting back in a chair and then lift up using your legs. Bending over at the hip and trying to lift from that position is just asking for a nagging ache or possibly a strain. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help if something is to heavy.
- Ease in to exercise: I know its pretty and we all want to get back into shape or shed a few of the winter pounds but going out and walking/running for an hour or two when you haven’t done anything in awhile is a good way to develop patellar tendonitis and/or other aches and pains. Listen to your body. Gradually increase each day as you and your body become more accustomed to the demand being placed on it.
- Drink plenty of water: As the temperature begins to increase staying hydrated is crucial. If you wait until you are thirsty you are already dehydrated. Keep water near you or in sight throughout the day to help remind you to keep drinking! Recommended intake is 8, 8 ounce glasses a day but that increases as activity level increases.
- Cool down: After completing exercise or any physically demanding activity cool down. Cooling down allows the heart rate to return to its resting rate. This also helps in reducing the risk of dizziness and fainting from pooling blood to the extremities and DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Once again taking five to ten minutes to cool down and lightly stretch can make a significant difference in how you feel tomorrow!