Itching to get outside? Start slow and easy

. Posted in Health, Sports Medicine

By Peter Sedgwick, MD, InterMed Sports Medicine

The sun is shining, the weather is warm, and if you’re like me, the outdoors is calling. This is also the time of year, however, that I frequently see patients who have injured themselves by overdoing it in the yard or on the ball field.

Here are some tips to help you get the most of your time in the outdoors by reducing your risk of injury:

Warm up
Before jumping in with both feet, take 5 minutes to warm your body up and prepare it for the work ahead. If you’re a runner, walk a bit; if you’re doing yard clean-up, move around the yard, swing your arms — something to get your blood pumping. Avoid stretching before an activity, especially when your muscles are cold.

Pace yourself
Too much of a good thing can lead to sore muscles and joint injuries. Start slowly and gradually increase your time and intensity over a few weeks. If you have a large lawn, split the yard work over a couple of days. Or play nine holes of golf, rather than 18, for the first few times out. And remember to take breaks.

Stay hydrated
Whether you’re painting the deck or running around Back Cove, it’s important to drink plenty of water.

Stretch after
Once you finish an activity, take a few extra minutes to gently stretch the muscles you’ve just worked. Keep good form and gently hold the stretch for 20 – 30 seconds.

Mix it up
If improved fitness is your goal, strive for a combination of aerobic exercise, such as swimming or running, with resistance training. Again, start slow and gradually increase the intensity over time.

Enjoy the scenery
Maine is one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and there are countless opportunities to take your fitness routine outside. Whether you walk the beach, hike a trail, or paddle your boat, the fresh air and sunshine (remember your sunscreen) do wonders for body, mind, and spirit. Enjoy!

Dr. Peter Sedgwick is a Sports Medicine Physician in our Yarmouth office.