We’ve been having some beautiful weather here in Oxford for the past few days with great temperatures, less pollen, and comfortably mild winds. Many Oxonians take advantage of this time of year by getting outside to enjoy sight-seeing activities and develop exercise routines. The weather is a perfect motivator for us to get off the couch and get fit. Physical activity does so much good for our bodies and minds, no matter how light or how heavy the activity.
It's very important to remember a few things before starting any type of exercise regimen, whether indoor or outdoor.
Always get a physical exam to help identify any underlying heart or lung issues.
Always hydrate before, during and after any type of physical activity.
Always warm up and stretch before exercise or strenuous activity; cool down and stretch after exercise or strenuous activity.
A physical exam by a professional health care provider can help identify any new onset health issues that could be detrimental to your health when starting an exercise program or any type of strenuous activity. Some of these findings can be treated, or at least properly prepared for. These could include lung diseases such as asthma, irregular heartbeats and/or muscle or joint deformities leading to bodily injuries.
Proper hydration before, during, and after physical activity is extremely important to prevent bodily injuries and dehydration. Hydration gives your heart, lungs and muscles what they need to be flexible and move the way you want. It's kind of like what oil does for the Tin Man - if he wants to actually move, he needs every joint hydrated!
Warming up, Stretching, and Cooling Down
Our bodies have been a little less active during the cold, rainy winter months, so it's not fair to expect them to just go from the couch to a 5k run. This can cause major muscle, tendon and ligament tears and strains, and even lead to fractures, joint displacements and injuries - essentially leaving us IN pain and leaving us OUT of some of our favorite activities.
Stretching before sports and exercise improves flexibility allowing our muscles and joints to bend, twist and reach comfortably, preventing injuries to our bodies. The more routine stretching you do, the more bending, twisting and flexibility your body will be able to tolerate without obtaining injuries as you progress from a mild exercise program to more strenuous physical activity.
As quoted by one of Oxford's finest physical therapists and owner of Professional Therapy Services in Oxford, MS, Michael Fulton, RPT:
“Proper flexibility of a muscle cannot be over-emphasized when it comes to injury prevention. Three very important aspects of flexibility are: pre-stretch warm up, using proper stretching techniques and cool down muscles after an aggressive workout. Prior to performing flexibility exercises, target muscles should be warmed up through very light exercises such as a slow jog. Once target muscles are warmed up, it is extremely important to use proper technique with long hold times. If involved in aggressive activities, then cooling a muscle down with proper light stretching is also very effective for keeping healthy muscles.”
Whether you are just starting an exercise routine or engaging in frequent strenuous exercises, routine physical exams, stretching and hydration are the foundation for your success and are the best ways to help prevent body injuries.