April 14, 2012 — Your health is important, and after a long winter of reduced activity or inactivity you might be tempted to ditch those old winter habits, go outside and train as soon as the weather improves.
According to Moshe Lewis, MD, chief of physical medicine and rehabilitation at California Pacific Center-St. Luke’s Campus in the Department of Orthopedics, although you may be tempted to exercise at the same level you did at the end of the last season, such enthusiasm often leads to early season injuries.
If you changed your routine for the winter, you need to get back into shape slowly. The following are some tips from Lewis for avoiding injuries as you increase your exercise this summer.
1. Slow and steady — don’t overdo it: Try to exercise three to four times per week on alternate days. One of the best ways to get injured or sore is to go hard all weekend and do nothing during the week.
Don’t succumb to the weekend warrior syndrome. You will also have higher risk of damage to your ligaments, if you overexert yourself. Remember to pace yourself and increase your training gradually over the weeks. Adding one hundred steps to your daily routine will add a tiny bit to your fitness level, if you keep it up. Your body will adapt.
2. Cross train: Alternating your workouts can improve your performance and reduce the risk of injuries.
By participating in a variety of different activities, such as running, weight training, hiking, or biking, you limit the stress on one specific muscle group because different activities use muscles in slightly different ways. Muscles are easy. They adapt and get stronger fast. And that is why you get injured.
3. Avoid exercising in pain: As you ease back into training you may experience some minor muscle aches and soreness. But if you have any sharp, unusual pain, or soreness that doesn’t go away, pay close attention. You may be on the way to an injury.
Listen to the early warning signs of an injury, otherwise you increase your chances of tissue and muscle tear, which can often lead to permanent long term damage.
4. Train with others who share the same enthusiasm as you: If you can find a few people with the same fitness level and goals as you it can help keep you progressing at a good pace.
Working out in a group provides support, accountability and structure. You are more likely to complete a well-rounded exercise routine and stay on track with your fitness regimen.
5. Don’t be so hard on yourself: Getting back into shape is often slow and difficult, and you have to ramp up your intensity level and exercise routines gradually. Remember you have to pace yourself, and if you took the winter off don’t expect to be back at your peak fitness in a week or two.
Take your time and Keep in mind that Summer Training is a time for fun, light-hearted exercise. You aren’t competing so just relax, enjoy your activity and enjoy the summer.
Source: Moshe Lewis, MD, thejetmd.com