by Dr. Brooke Azie-Rentz, ND
Spring is in the air, the buds are coming out on the trees, the daffodils are peeking up through the soil, time to get outside, shake off the winter doldrums and start thinking about longer, dryer, sunnier days to come. And with this, we all think about the 5 pounds we put on during the holidays and start hitting the gym a little harder, or go for that bike ride, or play that pickup basketball game. Meanwhile, forgetting we are not 18 anymore and the ol’ body doesn’t just spring back into action like it once did. So while getting back into shape is a great idea, getting injured can set you back weeks, months or even prevent you from doing the activities you once loved for fear of further injury or pain. Here are a few simple, easy ways to prevent and treat injuries so that you can stay active this spring and for years to come.
- Be realistic – if you haven’t done an activity in a while, don’t jump back in to where you left off. Remember it takes time and training to work up to running a half marathon or bench pressing 150lbs.
- Warm Up and Cool Down – there may have been a time you could just jump in and play a game of basketball, but as we get older we are less flexible and less hydrated. Make sure to stretch muscles that are warm, not cold. Start with some jumping jacks or a 5 min warm up run before stretching. Muscles will stretch better and hold that stretch if warm before beginning activity. It is also equally important to stretch at the end of your workouts. After you have contracted your muscles thousands of times, make sure to take 10 minutes at the end to elongate and stretch all of them.
- Hydrate – did I mention we are dehydrated as we get older? Is it because we drink more coffee, alcohol, tea, and soda, or is it the go, go, go lifestyles we live that we barely have time to eat, never mind get in our 64oz of water per day. Make sure for every 30 min of exercise you do, you drink an additional 8oz of water on top of your 64oz you are already drinking per day J Also, don’t forget about electrolytes. When we sweat, we lose our salts. Make sure when exercising to replace what you lose.
- Proper nutrition – every type of exercise needs certain nutrition and caloric intake to optimize what you get from your workouts. For example, if you are going to start lifting heavy weights, you need to make sure to eat enough protein that your body can build more muscle and repair torn muscle fibers, otherwise, pain and long recovery times could limit your workouts. If you are going to start a new workout regimen, please feel free to set up a consult to discuss what individual needs you may require for your workout program.
- Proper supplementation– this will be different for every person. We do recommend proper calcium/magnesium supplementation for anyone with an exercise program. Magnesium is needed for muscle relaxation and can prevent cramping. Anti-inflammatory meds or supplements may also be part of your regimen. Whether you are preloading with turmeric and arnica before skiing or taking ibuprofen after an ankle sprain playing soccer, the right treatment can both prevent you from being injured and minimize the length of recovery needed.
- Rest – remember, your body heals at night when you sleep. If you are not getting adequate, restful sleep, then you could be contributing to your aches and pains.
Exercise is an important aspect to health, just make sure you are paying attention to your body and listening to what it tells you. Going faster, harder, stronger and longer is not always the answer; in fact, many times this leads to more injuries, which is usually the opposite of why we start exercising in the first place. Ask for direction on proper lifting techniques at the gym, ask your doctor to evaluate your diet and supplement regimen to make sure you are getting the proper nutrition for your activity of choice, and also be prepared for injury by working actively to prevent it, or seeking the proper help to treat it.
Spring is a time of growth and regeneration, let our providers here at AIM help grow, nurture and protect the athlete in you.