With nice changes in weather comes increased activity. You have been bundled up and shivering throughout our Northeast winter, watching TV and playing with your phone while waiting for the weather to break. Finally, Spring is here!
Before you go outside and decide to run 5 miles, or hike up a mountain, or partake in your favorite outdoor activity, it is important to recognize what your body went through during the winter. Long periods of inactivity breeds tissue and joint tightness, and deactivation of important muscle groups. To borrow from a mentor of mine, “Sitting on our butts as a society has turned our thick steak gluteal muscles into Steak-umms.” (more here) As physical therapists, this season we begin seeing a lot of patients and clients coming in with new injuries. We find ourselves often making the following recommendations:
- First of all, don’t hesitate: Get out of the house and be active!
- If you haven’t participated in an activity in a few weeks (much less months), start easy. For example: You haven’t run since October. At that time you were running 4 miles a few days a week. Your first few runs should be much less. Finish before you are ready. That will let you assess how you feel that night and the next day, allowing you to adjust your next workout accordingly.
- Even though your muscles may feel stiff, stretching may not be the answer to making you feel better. See my blog post for what I mean. Simply warming up before an activity may take that stiffness away. If a tightness feeling continues after you are warm, then it’s okay try a light stretch.
- Achiness and pain may arise in your knees, ankles, hips, etc. If so, try a little ice or a salt bath. If the aches and pains continue, it’s likely your “check engine light” indicating a movement dysfunction. If that’s the case, we can help.
- Most importantly, pick activities that you like and progress slowly based on how you feel. Partner and group activities help with motivation. It’s imperative to have fun. Stick with your plan, eat well, and consult with us if you run into trouble.
Good luck and have fun!