Warming Up to Warm Ups

Spring time truly is one of the best times of year.  The weather warms up, the sun comes out, and getting into outdoor activities becomes so much easier and enjoyable.  People get outside and get a lot more active after a long winter season of relaxing inside and binging their favorite TV shows.  When people get back to outdoor activities for the first time of the season, they sometimes over do it and get sore or end up with an injury that limits them from their other activities.

It’s important to recognize that the activity itself, whether it be hiking, gardening, jogging, or anything else, isn’t likely a bad thing to be doing.  If you were hiking 4-5 months ago, you should be able to hike today unless you’ve had some significant change in your health.  But you shouldn’t expect that hike to go as smoothly as it did, especially after a long winter.  This is a generalization, but people tend to be much less active over the winter months compared to the summer months.  Jumping into a more vigorous activity after several months of relative inactivity will predispose you into some injuries.

To help prevent some of these injuries or pains, you should be doing some sort of warm up.  Really, you should be doing a daily warm up or stretching routine every day to help keep yourself injury free.

Here are some general guidelines for an effective warm up:

  • Keep it short – A good warm up – unless you’re an NBA player getting ready for a playoff game – doesn’t need to take more than 5-10 minutes.
  • Focus on big muscle groups – Particularly those muscle groups that you’ll be using.  Will you be doing a lot of walking, squatting, bending, or lunging?  Warm up those legs with some body weight squats, skipping, lunges, or even jumping jacks.  Will you be doing a lot of carrying, lifting, pushing, or pulling?  Push ups (on the ground or higher surface like a wall or counter top), rows (use a bag or backpack if you don’t have weights), and slow arm circles are good options.
  • Stretch anything that’s tight – BUT DON’T HOLD THE STRETCHES!  Dynamic stretches, or stretching that is performed with constant movement, is shown to be better at injury prevention than static stretching (such as holding a stretch for time).  Dynamic stretches should involve the same general movements that you’ll be doing.  They should also be fairly controlled, so don’t go just flailing your limbs around.

Getting out and being active is good!  But making sure that you can stay active is more important.  So warm up!  Make sure that your hiking, gardening, or whatever activity you do doesn’t force you back into spending all your time on the couch.

Got questions?  Feel limited in what you’re able to do?  The staff at Limitless Physical Therapy in Eugene, OR can show you how to be limitless. Contact us to connect with on of our PTs. Or follow us on Facebook.

***The above information, including text, images, and all other materials, is provided for educational purposes only, and not as a replacement or supplement to professional medical advice.  Please contact a certified healthcare professional or your primary physician for any personal concerns.

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