Plans to be active when the weather breaks? Start now

By Doug Galvin

Do you have plans to be more active once the weather breaks?

Though the recent weather and Punxsutawney Phil (groundhog) might lead us to believe spring will never arrive, chances are that it won’t be long.

One of the best reasons to look forward to spring is getting some fresh air and in shape. After an ugly and cold winter with too much time on the couch or surfing the web, most of us are ready to be more active. While many people look forward to beginning a walking or running program in the spring, many don’t realize that now is perhaps the most important time to prepare.

While the nice weather may be weeks away this is the time to begin conditioning your body for the demands of such a program.

The spring can often bring preventable injuries ranging from the common overuse injuries such as strains, sprain, tendonitis, bursitis, to the more serious injury of stress fractures.

While we are excited to see a stretch of nice weather in the spring, many try to do too much too soon. After a sedentary winter many try to walk or run each day and increase their distance much too quick.

Muscle, tendon, and bone respond to the stress placed upon it, and while exercise is beneficial, too much stress to these structures may cause injury. Injuries cost time and money at the doctor or physical therapist as well as time lost from the desired activity.

The key to a healthy and successful start to spring exercise is by starting conditioning and stretching program before the nice weather arrives. Follow these recommendations for a smooth transition to spring.

Replace your footwear: Late winter is a great time to purchase new shoes. Walking and running shoes lose their shape and shock absorption over time. Purchasing shoes in late winter provides the time needed to break the shoes in before spring.

Stretch: Some of the most common spring injuries involve the plantar fascia, Achilles, and muscles and tendons of the knee and hip. Prepare these areas by doing stretches specific to these areas.

Conditioning: If your goal is to begin a walking program, look for opportunities to start while waiting for the weather to break. Bundle up and walk short distances outside when able, or look for places to walk indoors on a treadmill or at the mall.

Your body responds favorably to a gradual increase in activity and this will prevent many injuries.

Frequency: Remember that slow and steady wins the race. Walking/running every other day may be best in the beginning of your program with gradual increase in the time/distance each time. Look for opportunities to cross-train during this period to vary the stress on your body.

Safety: Spring time exercise frequently takes place early or late in the day when the sun may be rising or setting. Make sure to wear bright colors or reflective clothing to ensure you stand out to drivers.

To obtain a list of suggested stretching exercises please contact Summit at 937-444-2933

Doug Galvin is the owner of Summit Physical Therapy in Mt. Orab, Hillsboro, and Loveland. Mr. Galvin holds a BS and Master’s degree in Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy from Ohio University and the University of Indianapolis. He is recognized by the American Physical Therapy Association as an Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist.