Safely “Spring” into Seasonal Sports
Common Question: I’m starting a spring sport, but I haven’t exercised much this winter. What should I do to prepare?
Michael Jordan, M.D., advises what to do to avoid injury when beginning spring exercise routines after an inactive winter. He is a board-certified family medicine and sports medicine doctor at Lifetime Health’s Amherst Health Center, in addition to providing medical coverage for the Buffalo Bandits (National Lacrosse League).
With warmer weather around the corner, many people who’ve been inactive are getting ready to spring into an exercise routine or fair-weather sport. Lack of proper conditioning can result in a season-ending injury. Overuse injuries, like tendonitis or tennis elbow, are very common at this time of year.
Here are some tips to safely ease back into a sport or start exercising after a long break:
- Progressively prepare yourself for your seasonal sport. For example, if you’re a golfer, get out to the driving range a couple of times before your first round. Think about what kind of flexibility and activity level it takes and work up to it. Walking is one of the easiest ways to ease back into physical activity.
- Remember to check equipment, especially footwear. Make sure your equipment is in good shape and still appropriate for you. Proper equipment is necessary for all kinds of activities, even gardening or spring cleaning.
- Stretch frequently. Think about which muscles you’re using the most and stretch before and after activity. Contact a sports medicine physician if you’re unsure what stretches to do for a particular muscle group.
- Consult a doctor or athletic trainer before beginning any new fitness routine. If you’re about to start an activity you’ve never done before, it’s a good idea to consult with a medical professional first, especially if you’ve had previous sports injuries.
- Maintain good health all year. It may be too late for this year, but start thinking about indoor activities you can do to keep fit over the winter.
Starting your season on the right foot is one of the best ways to prevent injury later on. Sports medicine physicians can help you avoid getting hurt. We focus on lifelong fitness and injury prevention. If you’re injured, a doctor who specializes in sports medicine can help you maximize function and minimize disability and time away from regular activities.
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