Along with the warmer temperatures comes more outdoor physical activity. Since May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month let’s review what you should practice to ensure proper exercise technique and avoid injury at all costs. Let’s face it, no one wants to be locked up inside with an injury during the summer months!
Proper Warm-up and Cool-down
A proper warm-up prepares your body for exercise by gradually increasing the heart rate and loosening the muscles and joints. A warm-up should include light movement to get your blood flowing. Start out at a low intensity and slowly work up to the intensity of your workout. Some good warm-up activities would be a light jog, bike, jump rope, or plyometric exercises like high knees or leg swings if you are planning on participating in a sport that requires a lot of agility movements like baseball, football, basketball, etc.
A cool-down is important for slowly bringing your heart rate back down to a normal level. Many of the same activities you perform during a warm-up can also be done as a cool-down (i.e. light jog, bike, etc.) You can also incorporate stretching into your cool-down routine. Focus on the muscles you primarily worked during your workout and slowly stretch these muscles and hold for approximately 10-20 seconds.
Ease Into It
When you begin a new exercise routine, it is very important to start slowly. As you become more comfortable with the movements and your body is more comfortable with the strain being put on it you can then gradually build up the intensity, duration, and frequency.
Listen to Your Body
Only do what feels comfortable to your body and do not push yourself further once you feel uncomfortable. Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong and if what starts out as a small issue is repeatedly stressed, or not given proper rest, it may lead to a more severe injury.
Hydration and Nutrition
It is important to stay hydrated during a workout to avoid becoming light headed or passing out. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water before, during, and after you work out. A good general rule of thumb is to drink a full glass of water about 20 minutes before working out and another full glass of water after your workout. Along with hydrating yourself before and after your workout, you should also be drinking water frequently throughout the duration of your workout.
Aside from staying hydrated you also should be eating before and after activity in order to provide your body with nutrients and to refuel energy stores. Practice eating a small meal or snack every couple hours throughout the day. After your workout, be sure to consume a quality carbohydrate and protein to replenish your energy body.
Before you start any type of activity, make sure you have the proper equipment required for the specific activity. Proper clothing and footwear is the most important. Consider light weight or dry-fit type of material when you know you will be exercising to the point of perspiration. Also, make sure the shoes you have are right for the activity you are participating in. If you are a runner, you should replace your shoes every year or every 500 miles (whichever comes first) to maintain proper support and traction.
Vary Your Activity
Make sure you vary your workout. Do not overuse one muscle group because overuse can lead to injuries such as tendonitis or shin splints. Make sure you include rest days in your workout routine to allow your muscles time to rebuild.
Practicing proper form is very important. Something as small as leaning too far forward or having your feet too far apart can end in injury. Make sure you research the proper form for each activity you plan to do and if you are still unsure you can always contact one of your incentaHEALTH Health Coaches who would love to help answer any of your exercise related questions!
Written by: Deanne Emig, Health Coach