Tips to Help Prepare Your Body for Spring and Summer Activities

by TOI Admin April 29, 2013

By Joyce Shahboz, PT

With the warm weather upon us, many people are switching to more outdoor activities. Adults and children alike are participating in spring sports and early summer activities. With our increase in available daylight, you may be tempted to jump right into activities, but remember, even professional baseball players go through 4-6 weeks of spring training to get ready.  Here are a few general tips to help decrease your chance of overdoing things and preparing your body for participation in the recreational activities you enjoy.


1. Prepare your body for the activity.  Participating in recreational activities only on the weekend will not adequately prepare your body.  If time is limited, aim for at least 20-30 minutes, 3-4 times a week, of strengthening and stretching that focuses on targeted muscles groups and general core exercises. Sports like tennis, baseball/softball and swimming require increased attention to shoulder flexibility and strength of the rotator cuff muscles.  To efficiently hit a golf ball, one needs not only adequate shoulder flexibility but also good back and hip range of motion. Runners need to not only focus on muscles of the hips and legs but also good core stability.

2. Don’t increase your level of activity too quickly.  Your body will have a better opportunity to adjust and positively adapt to increasing load and demands if your training increases slowly.  The general rule of thumb is a 10% increase per week. For example, if you have not run all winter, start off with some walk-run intervals instead of trying to start where you left off.  Your body will also need adequate rest.

3. Differentiate between pain and soreness.  Exercising through pain can lead to increasing trauma.  Conversely, adequate stress to muscles may lead to normal muscle soreness and fatigue 24-48 hours of the activity.

4. Stay hydrated.  Be sure to drink fluids before and during activities. Generally, aim for 1-2 glasses of water before an activity and then 6 to 8 ounces every 20 or 30 minutes during the activity.  If you anticipate more than 45 minutes of intense activity, you may need a drink that has electrolytes, such as a low sugar sports drink. Some people don’t realize how much they “sweat” swimming, so no matter your sport, keep drinking!

5.  Always warm up.  Even adolescents participating in youth sports should start off with 5-10 minutes of a dynamic warm-up.  Some people may require a longer warm-up of progressing intensity depending on the activity.

Not every injury can be prevented. But, they can be decreased by addressing lack of conditioning, muscular imbalances, and limited flexibility or joint range of motion.  Seeking out a training program structured to prevent injury (pre-hab) may make it easier to prevent an injury from occurring in the first place.

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