As Summer dwindles and temperatures drift into a cooler range, many of us are preparing for a change in our routine. For families, Fall means “back to school” and the reinstatement of a morning wake-up and time schedule. And for families with student-athletes, it also means a return to regular fall fitness and sports practices. This also holds true for those of us with outdoor hobbies. We may begin to act differently as deer or elk season approaches. Hours may be spent poring over maps and charts, mimicking strange animal noises that disturb the rest of the house, and compulsively checking gear for long treks into the wilderness.
But what if I spent the entire summer sitting by the pool and playing video games, eating corn chips and ice cream? That first week back in physical training can seem insurmountable. It’s also a prime time to be on the lookout for overuse and strain injuries, as muscles long forgotten during the idle summer months are called upon to perform at peak response rates. Prevention is better than the cure, but there are still measures that can vastly decrease your risk for injury; and some of those inevitable workout-related aches and pains.
1. Make a Plan that Supports Your Fitness Goals and a Schedule to Reach Those Benchmarks.
This plan needs to be realistic. One that can be reassessed and updated as needed. Maybe this is a lap time to beat by a certain date, a mountain to climb, or a game to be ready to compete in top form. A coach or activity partner helps with building a program and with accountability. Start gradually and go slow with a new program, and include stretching and warm-up/cool-down in your regular workout routine. Adequate hydration, nutrition, and sleep are also vital for decreasing injury risk in a training program, especially in the early weeks. Also take into account that as we age, it takes longer to make strength and endurance gains.
Not having time to exercise is one of the most common frustrations voiced in the doctor’s office. More often, it turns out that it is not time that is lacking, but the motivation to work out – especially after a long day at the office. Start small-carve out 10 minutes for a brisk walk or bike ride, or other physical activity you enjoy. If you are fortunate enough to be in school full time, sign up for an organized sport that sticks to a schedule for practices and competitions. Make it a part of your regular habit and routine. Before long, the time cost becomes second nature. The benefits in other aspects of life such as improved energy, mood, and sleep quality will be saving more time and efficiency than the original investment!
3. Make an Honest Assessment of Your Current Physical Health and Where You Would Like to be.
If you are severely deconditioned, a visit to the doctor may be the place to start for a baseline regarding cardiovascular risk for a new program or recommendations following an injury or surgery. This may include an exam, lab work, or specialized testing to assess cardiac function. For student-athletes, a school or sports physical may be the one chance in a year to catch problems early and also make any health maintenance recommendations.
Dr. Armitage is trained in fracture and sports injury management and works closely in partnership with Therapeutic Associates in Creswell to facilitate rehabilitation and recovery following sports injuries and surgery.