Warmer weather will awaken you from your winter slumber soon enough, inspiring you to hit the pavement or gym to get back into your old exercise routine or start a new one.
But, wait. Not so fast.
Before you lace up your running shoes or attend your first indoor cycling class, you should be aware of some problems you may encounter if rushing into a routine too quickly.
As an orthopaedic surgeon, I see a lot of injuries that result from people trying to do too much too soon. When starting a new routine, you should start slowly and know your limits to help prevent injuries.
For the busy parent who is preoccupied during the week, weekends may be the only time to squeeze in some exercise. However, for the weekend warrior types, it’s important not to overload your body with strenuous activities. For example, playing six basketball games over the weekend when you’ve been fairly inactive all week places you at risk for suffering a muscular strain or even more serious injuries. If you’re limiting your exercise time to just the weekends, you need be more aware of the amount of stress you’re placing on your body in that short of time.
Try to extend your workout routines over multiple days throughout the week. A realistic goal would be to start exercising three days a week. As your conditioning and muscle strength improve, expand your routine to four or five days.
Alternating between cardio exercises and strength training is a great idea, because it will give one muscle group the rest it needs while conditioning another.
Easing back into an exercise regimen is crucial. We all want to lose weight quickly, but a lot of times we push our bodies so hard that we ultimately burn out before reaching our goal. The pounds will come off when you combine a steady routine with healthy lifestyle choices.
Know your limits
It’s often said you should know your limits when beginning a new routine, but what exactly does that mean? Sometimes we forget that activities we were once used to doing now can take a toll on our bodies if we’re not in condition. Conditioning level, predisposed illnesses and age are important factors that determine the amount of physical stress your body can endure.
Sometimes we forget that activities we were once used to doing now can take a toll on our bodies if we’re not in condition. Just because you think you can run eight miles, doesn’t mean you can or should, especially if you haven’t run since December.
While soreness is inevitable, the amount of soreness and stiffness you experience the next day can be mitigated by stretching muscles directly involved in the activity before and after every routine.
Muscles lose flexibility when not used often, which can increase your chances of pulling or straining a muscle. Stretching before and after exercising is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to prevent injuries.
If you haven’t exercised in a while, you should reassess your workout gear to ensure it’s comfortable and protective. Shoes you bought two years ago may be worn out; your body characteristics may have changed or maybe you need more cushioning or support.
Listen to your body
If you experience prolonged soreness in a specific area, I recommend taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen and resting for a couple days. If the pain continues after a few days, set up an appointment with a physician.
Rest is so important for your body to rejuvenate itself. You certainly don’t want to fight through pain, but it’s also important to remain active. For example, if you are resting your foot, you can continue to do upper-body conditioning. One of the last things you want to happen is to allow your entire body to become deconditioned, because then you’ll have to start all over.
If you haven’t exercised in a while, you should also reassess your workout gear to ensure its comfortable and protective.
You want to make sure everything fits comfortably and according to your body build. Shoes you bought two years ago may be worn out; your body characteristics may have changed or maybe you need more cushioning or support.
And of course, always remember to drink plenty of water, especially when it’s hot outside and don’t forget a good slathering of sunscreen on often forgotten places like the top of your ears and the back of your neck.
Ian Byram, M.D.Share this Article