The new year often brings new intentions to live a healthier lifestyle and exercise more. Some will greet the challenge with a little too much enthusiasm, taking up additional activity too quickly and risking injury.
So, it’s important to ease into any exercise that’s new to you or that you haven’t done in a while (like that occasional ski trip). And if you’ve been inactive for an extended period or have health concerns, check with your physician before starting an exercise program.
When you’re ready to go, give yourself the best chance of meeting your long-term fitness goals by avoiding injuries. Here are our expert tips:
- Check your shoes
Make sure your athletic shoes fit well and are in good shape. This can help prevent rolling an ankle or putting undue strain on your feet, knees, hips and back.
- Warm up
A 5- to 10-minute pre-exercise warm-up should include gentle stretching, as well as strengthening and cardiovascular exercises. While warming up, consider the physical demands of your upcoming activity. An example: Prepare for tennis or basketball by carefully stretching your Achilles tendon.
- Don’t be a “weekend warrior”
Routine physical activity will build and maintain conditioning, allowing you to participate in any athletic pursuit with less risk of injury. Experts suggest at least a half hour of physical activity most days. Walking is one of the best all-around exercises you can do to stay in shape.
- Take a break
Rest for a day between games or workouts to allow muscles to recover and to prevent strains and injuries from overuse.
4 Common Sports Injuries to Avoid
Be aware of these four common sports injuries, and seek medical advice if you notice symptoms.
- Rotator cuff tears or impingements: Caused by straining a cold muscle in a sudden overhead motion, such as a tennis serve.
- Achilles tendon ruptures and tears: Often seen in middle-aged athletes who haven’t stretched. These injuries can happen in any sport that involves running, especially with sudden acceleration as in tennis and basketball.
- Sprains or strains of the medial collateral ligament: This ligament straps the inside of the knee joint. Often triggered by a lack of strength or flexibility, this injury can occur when you’re pivoting in basketball or rotating suddenly, as a base runner in softball might.
- Elbow tendonitis: An inflammation of the tendons that extend from elbow to wrist. It’s caused by repeated movement and can affect bowlers and racket-sport enthusiasts.