With spring in full bloom and summer just around the corner, warm and sunny days are a welcoming invitation for us to come out of our winter hibernation and enjoy the perks of nicer weather. Some of us like to take a stroll in the park with the family dog, revive the garden in the backyard, go for a bicycle ride around the neighborhood or hit a couple home runs at the local baseball diamond.
Whatever your favorite spring activity may be, odds are that it involves some physical activity and use of muscles and other body parts you have neglected during the winter. Before you go out to seize the warm, sunny day, take the time to educate yourself on how to keep your muscles and joints healthy and active all spring and summer through.
BE ACTIVE & STAY ACTIVE—TIPS FROM THE PROS:
FOR THE RUNNER:
Running is a great aerobic activity, but just like any other repeated task, it can lead to break down. No pain, no gain is not necessarily true. Pain in the form of muscle work is OK, but pain from swelling or trauma is never good. Make sure you invest in proper footwear, do cross-training and stretch routinely. You can also try to substitute one day of running with a low- impact activity such as biking, swimming or pilates.
FOR THE GARDENER:
When you’re putting in that new rose bush in the garden make sure you bend your knees as you squat down. The worst thing you can do is garden while bending over in the standing position. If possible, use a stool to sit on while gardening. If you kneel for long periods of time, make sure to wear proper padding. Most important of all, watch your posture and try to avoid hunching over the garden. Always stay hydrated while working in the heat and sun!
FOR THE BICYCLIST:
Cycling is great since it is a non-impact exercise. Even though the activity involves using your legs, it is common to come across instances of low back pain. Since the positions for cycling more commonly use the forward flexed position, it is helpful to stretch the front side of your body and work on postural endurance.
FOR THE BALL PLAYER:
It is very important to jog before any baseball activity to warm-up the muscles and joints. After you warm-up, make sure to stretch your leg muscles, torso and BOTH arms. Throwing mechanics are very important. Keep your elbow up and use your legs to push off. The length of the baseball season and all the throwing involved can and will lead to injury if you do not warm-up and train properly! If you’re a pitcher, do not pitch through a lower body injury as this is the leading cause of arm problems.
Common belief is that one should stretch after rigorous workout. Actually, stretching should be a routine activity. If you stretch your muscles every day regardless of activity level, you will keep your muscles flexible and are less likely to suffer muscle related injuries.
To be active and stay active this summer, keep these tips in mind and pay attention to your body before, during and after any physical activity. These tips serve only as a guide for the average person. You should know the signs of your body and pay attention to those signs to help keep you healthy and active this summer and the rest of your life!