As the warmer weather returns, some of us are dusting off our bikes, roller blades, and other equipment. It is so nice to see people getting outside and moving, rubbing their eyes as they adjust to the light from the big yellow thing in the sky they haven’t seen for the past four months. This really is a great time of the year.
Sadly, it is also one time of the year where I see many patients who injured themselves in the simple act of trying to get some exercise and have some fun. Months of relative inactivity for many people sets us up for problems. It isn’t just your average Joe at home who’s at risk; have you ever noticed how many athletes get injured during spring training or in pre-season games? These are athletes in peak condition--so it is easy to imagine that most people who are not in as good shape could be putting themselves at risk when returning to spring and summer activities.
What can you do to help stay safe and enjoy your activities all summer long? Follow these three bits of advice:
1) Moderation is key. What’s your rush? Restart slowly. Even if you were running 50 miles a week at the end of last season, chances are you didn’t maintain that level in the off season. No matter your activity of choice, build up over the next few weeks.
2) Hydrate. You don’t need the same levels of fluids when you are doing less activity. It can be easy to forget to replace your fluids and electrolytes; that is, until your body reminds you with painful muscle cramps.
3) Stretch. Ok, I know you’ve been told this before, but I can tell you this; pretty much nobody stretches sufficiently. Thirty seconds of bobbing up and down is just not going to do it. Whatever the activity, make the effort to learn the appropriate stretches for that activity, set aside the time before you go out, and do them.
Now get out there, and enjoy yourself!
Andrew Kirschner, D.O., is a board-certified physician with a private practice in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, and a consultancy in Miami, Florida. He specializes in treating individuals and couples with musculoskeletal and back pain. To learn more about his practice, please visit BackTogether.org.