Prepare for your Summer Activities
As spring and summer approaches, many of us will return to activities that have been forgotten over the winter months. Returning to any activity to which you are not conditioned for can increase the likelihood of injury. Injury can be avoided by performing stretching, strengthening, and general light exercise prior to strenuous activity. One should always perform generalized stretching and a light warm up of the muscles that will be most active during activity. For example, walking or a light jog prior to aerobic activity or performing light resistance exercises for the arms/shoulders prior to tasks requiring the upper body. Light stretching and a warm up will allow a reduction in muscle tension, increased flexibility, and increased blood flow which will all help to reduce the risk of injury. Consider the following summer activities and how to prepare for each strenuous activity.
Kayaking will require long periods of sitting as well as upper body and core strength/stability.
- Posture will be most important to reduce spinal stresses and prevent injury. Always maintain an upright sitting position with ears over shoulders, shoulders over hips and maintain a hollowing of the low back
- Allow a warm up period for the upper body with light resistance activity and gentle stretching
Hiking will require plenty of lower body endurance, strength, and flexibility as well as cardiovascular conditioning.
- Stretching of the lower body should include the hips, quadriceps, hamstrings, and ankles.
- Allow warm up of the lower body with a short walk or light jog prior to beginning a long hike
Always consider the task and the physical demands of the task that is required. Take for example, baseball. This will require significant demand and force production during throwing, batting, and running the bases. Any activity that will require quick force production may increase the likelihood of muscle injury especially if the athlete is not properly prepared for sport. Always begin with the appropriate warm up followed by light swinging or throwing and increase demand/force production with repetition. This will allow you to ‘prime the system’ for high intensity exercise and reduce the likelihood of injury.
These general pre-activity exercises can be applied to any sport including jogging, rock climbing, swimming, and all back yard and organized sports. Reduce your risk of injury by allowing 10-15 minutes of exercise prior to summer activities. Always be aware of your activity tolerance and experience with the activity you are about to perform. Begin with light/short activity if you have been inactive for a period of time. Understand the risks of all recreational activity and always follow safety precautions.
Dr. Stephen DiGiambattista is a physical therapist at North Pocono ProCare Physical Therapy in Moscow. If there are questions, concerns, or you would like to suggest topics for future columns, please feel free to contact Stephen at firstname.lastname@example.org.