How do we put this nicely? Your fitness routine this past winter was…let’s just say lackluster at best. You’ve been counting the days until you can get outside and work up a sweat in the fresh air without having to wear 14 layers to do so. You’re so excited that those days seem to (finally!) be here but Dr. Asit Shah, chief of orthopedic surgery, Dr. Marc Arginteanu, chief of neurosurgery and Dr. Jeff Pavell, chief of rehabilitation medicine at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center would like to remind you of a few things before you jump into your warm weather workouts.
- Take it slow when you first start. You are not as strong, fast or fit as you were at the end of last season. Dr. Shah reminds you that if you haven’t been quite so, ahem, active during the winter months, “your body needs time to adjust to exertion activities like biking, running, hiking and waterskiing…if you overdo it or don’t have proper form, [your workouts] can easily lead to injury.”
- Warm up before any activity. Yes, your time is valuable and you don’t have much of it. And it is tempting to abbreviate or skip this step. But try to do at least 5-10 minutes of gentle exercises to warm up your muscles by increasing your heart rate and blood circulation. From Dr. Arginteanu, “The best way to prevent injury is to warm up the body and mimic the motions of activity before starting.”
- Wear appropriate attire and protective gear. Dr. Pavell reminds, “Choose clothing that lets skin breathe and removes excess perspiration. Footwear should be appropriate for the terrain and helmets can help prevent concussions and other head injuries while biking, cycling or waterskiing.”
- Take breaks and hydrate. Dr. Arginteanu sees an uptick in patients with herniated discs, mid-back pain and spasms and arthritis during the summer months. That’s because the repetitive motions of summer activities like swimming, kayaking, sailing, surfing, and golf may cause traumatic injuries through the repetitive motion itself. Dr. Pavell suggests listening to your body, taking breaks as you need them and refraining from pushing to exhaustion. He also reminds that dehydration is common during the summer. Prevent this serious condition by drinking plenty of water throughout the day and not just when you are thirsty.
- Maintain correct form throughout the activity. The best way to do this, Dr. Arginteanu says, is to build up core strength through Pilates or yoga. Your core muscles help support the neck and spine and keep you aligned from the beginning of your workout to the end. And make sure you know how to perform exercises properly. Enlist help from a trainer or other professional before embarking on your warm-weather workout.
- When in doubt, see a doctor. Okay, you went and overdid it and now you’re in pain. How do you know if you should go see someone? A good rule of thumb, says Dr. Shah, is if pain is disrupting your life or an injury is impacting function, it’s probably a good idea to get checked. Also, if your pain does not improve or, in fact, gets worse you definitely need to get checked out.
- Treat Yourself. This does not mean self-diagnose. This means that once an injury (UGH!) has been identified, work with the doctors at EHMC to find the noninvasive or minimally invasive techniques that will get you back to enjoying your normal activities as soon as possible. Dr. Pavell recommends rest, ice and elevation for minor strains and spasms and suggests a visit to the Graf Center for Integrative Medicine for evidence-based therapies such as therapeutic massage, acupuncture, and meditation to help with pain management.
Have a great summer and stay safe out there!
Englewood Hospital and Medical Center 350 Engle Street, Englewood 201.894.3000