By Ryan Jones, DPT, CSCS
Finally, the winter weather is behind us and the sunshine has found its way back into our lives. The nice weather -- and the fact that bathing suit season is fast approaching -- tends to spur motivation to exercise, which may include running outdoors. But if you've been slacking a little over the winter, this exercise transition period may make you more injury prone. Jumping back into an old routine too quickly can cause trouble - especially if you've lost some strength and/or flexibility over the winter.
Here are a few tips to minimize your risk for injury and keep you out there, staying active.
- Start slowly! Whether it's getting back into the gym or back outside running, don't just begin where you may have left off months ago. Use your first few workouts to gauge your current fitness level, rather than kill yourself tin an attempt to make up for time lost. Decrease your running time/distance and take a little off the weights at the gym. See how your body feels then progress from there.
- When initiating a running program, lean on science. Recent research published in The Journal of Orthopedic Sports Medicine recommends increasing your running distance/times <30% each week. Progressions greater than this have been shown to boost the likelihood of injuries, such as Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, patellar tendonitis, and ITB syndrome. In general, we recommend progressing by 10-15% to truly minimize these risks.
- Proper warm up and proper cool down are more crucial than ever. Make sure to set aside time BEFORE and AFTER your session. Prior to working out, a dynamic movement series of active stretches is recommended. After you exercise, a static stretching series should be performed with all stretches executed three times for 30 seconds each.
- Always listen to your body and adjust your program as needed. Some moderate soreness is expected when starting a new activity. Pain is not.
If you follow this advice, you will certainly set yourself up for a healthy transition toward your spring/summer training regimen.