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With Covid-19 changing daily routines and canceling all sports and activities for the last few months, many sports enthusiasts and athletes have been out of commission for far too long. As we gradually return to a “new” normal and implement our fitness routines, it is essential to ease back in to avoid injury. After a period of inactivity, your body needs to adapt and slowly increase activity as tolerated.
You may ask, “How do I go about this safely?” The answer is - make a plan.
Return to play:Whatever your end goal - whether you are a collegiate athlete, a weekend warrior, an avid yoga goer, a once a week golfer or a high school track star - you have to start back at square one after being off your game for a few months.
Before you jump back in, start by creating a daily stretching plan, then slowly incorporate a strengthening workout to complete every other day. Core strengthening and cardio or aerobic exercise are also essential to do every day as you gradually increase your baseline activity.
If you were used to running 5 miles a day or squatting 250 pounds, do NOT start working out at that previous intensity. Instead, begin at HALF of your “normal” activity (in weight, distance, duration, intensity, etc.), and slowly increase as tolerated, provided you do not feel pain while doing it, that night, or the next day.
Recovery:It is very common to be sore after returning to an activity that you have not done in a while. Soreness is okay and expected, but do not neglect persistent pain that continues for more than a few days. Sharp shooting pain felt during activity could be an overuse injury and a sign you tried to do too much too soon. LISTEN to your body. If your body is telling you that you need a rest day, take it. Your body will thank you later.
If you are feeling tightness in your muscles, applying heat to them before stretching will help warm up and loosen your muscles to allow for maximum mobility. If stretching and heat do not help feeling sore after exercise, try applying ice or taking anti-inflammatories.
Any training regimen, whether rebuilding or maintaining, is not complete without proper nutrition. If you are not fueling your body with a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, complex carbs, and lean protein, as well as maintaining good hydration before, during, and after exercise, you will not be able to reach your peak performance. When you ask your body to perform on an empty tank, it is harder for your body to train and recover, and most importantly, injuries can often occur.
Injury prevention:Preventing injury is key to any training or participation in athletic activity. The last thing that you want is to sustain an injury, sidelining you or setting you back when trying to return to your sport. Your chances of avoiding injury are best if you can develop and stick to your training plan. Gradually increase activity intensity, incorporate strength, conditioning, and core workouts, stretch before and after exercise, maintain a healthy diet and hydration, get a good night’s sleep and always listen to your body.
Dr. Lisa Daye and her Sports Medicine Orthopedics team are here for you. Whether you need to get your training back on track, avoid injury, or are injured and need treatment, Dr. Daye and her team can work with you to develop a plan that’s right for you.
Call 716.500.BONE(2663) for more information or to schedule an appointment.
Living in Western New York, you can’t avoid cold, snow, and ice during the winter, but you can prevent serious winter-related injuries. In an earlier blog post, Dr. Riegel discussed heart attack risks. This week, Dr. Falcone, an orthopedic surgeon, offers tips for protecting your bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles.Thousands of people every year suffer from preventable injuries during the winter months. To protect yourself, observe some basic safety tips to prevent yourself from being one of them.
Protect Your Body, Inside and Out
Cold temperatures make muscles, tendons, and ligaments more prone to injury, so you’ll want to mitigate the risks of spending time outside by:
Beware of the Biggest Problem
Falling or slipping on icy outdoor surfaces, of course, is the biggest issue we face in the winter months. Both can cause broken bones, wrenched backs, sprained joints, or head injuries. We all take walking for granted, but if you try to walk in the winter like you do in the summer, you’re putting yourself at risk.Two things are essential to injury prevention: wearing boots or shoes designed for maximum safety on ice and snow and changing the way you walk. Slip-resistant footwear is key. So is taking shorter steps with slightly bent knees and taking things slow—try not to rush or run. If you have the choice between walking on potentially icy pavement or snowy grass, choose the grass. That way, if you fall, you’re less likely to be hurt. And, when you’re out and about, use handrails whenever possible, treat every walkway as though it has black ice, and keep your hands out of your pockets – you may need your arms for balance or to catch yourself. In fact, if you have to navigate black ice, walk like a penguin: widen your stance, spread your arms, and do your best to balance.
And if you do fall? Bend your elbows and knees to help your arms and legs absorb the impact, and be mindful of how you get up.
Prepare to Drive Differently
Winter driving can be harmful to your body, including preparations. Scraping ice and snow off your car—be sure to clear both windshields!—can bring about damage to joints, tissue, and muscles. Shoveling, with all the lifting, twisting, and throwing it requires, can cause muscle strains, sprains, and soft tissue injuries. Try pushing the snow away instead of lifting it onto your shovel. If you lift it, protect your back by keeping a slight bend in your knees. And listen to your body: if something is starting to hurt, take a break. Finally, pay attention to severe weather warnings. If you don’t have to be out on the roads when conditions are snowy or icy, don’t go anywhere. But if you do, take proper precautions to avoid abrupt stops, skids, and collisions—which can cause concussions, whiplash, back injuries and broken bones.
One final note: if you have any pre-existing orthopedic conditions, including and especially joint implants or any kind of surgical reconstruction, be sure you talk to your physician about any extra precautions you might have to take in the winter weather. We want everyone to enjoy the great outdoors this winter – safely!
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