By Kathleen Berger, Executive Producer for Science and Technology
Many people in the Midwest are back to doing things outside with a little spring in their step, trying to restart exercise routines! But pushing your body too far, too fast can put you at risk for injury. The key to starting the Spring season on the right foot is by taking it slow.
“I would recommend kind of slowly getting back to things outside,” said Brady Fleshman, MD, MU Health Care Sports Medicine Physician.
Fleshman specializes in sports medicine and family medicine at University of Missouri Health Care. His first tip is to begin with an active warmup, like walking lunges.
“Typically, what we recommend is doing a type of stretching where your body is actively moving, rather than a stretch where you’re just sitting and leaning forward,” said Fleshman. “Lunges or high knee raises or stretching your quad while you’re walking forward – those are usually the better exercises that we can do before we go for run before we play football or basketball or anything like that.”
Once you get on the trail, try to alternate running and walking. An idea known as interval training. It’s a good way to ease into activity, while helping your cardiovascular system.
“You slow down, and then you speed up, and then you slow down. And so that gets your heart kind of pumping fast and then settling down, and that’s been shown to be beneficial for the heart,” he said.
Fleshman also recommends that you pay attention to your stride length. Taking more steps per minute can actually reduce your risk of injury.
“If someone is taking really long steps, that might be the first thing I try to tell them to do is try to take shorter steps so that your stride length is reduced, and that will put less pressure on your joints.”
Finally, add some core work into your routine.
“A lot of times, injuries occur because our hip muscles and our core is very weak, and there’s been a lot of literature that says, if we strengthen the muscles around our hip and our core, that our injuries of our lower legs, feet, knees, are less likely to happen,” Fleshman explained.
Soreness is not unusual when you start a new exercise routine. If you’re able to pinpoint a specific area that’s giving you pain, it’s a good idea to see a doctor.
Fleshman said If you’re running and feel like your knee or hip is locking up or stuck, you should also get it checked out.