From pulled muscles and ankle sprains to knee, hip and shoulder pain—it’s no secret that when we work out we put ourselves at greater risk for strains, sprains and more. We asked the experts (our highly-trained Orthopedic Institute physicians) for their top tips on staying healthy while staying active.
Check out these top 5 orthopedic tips for athletes of all ages and skill levels.
1. Warm up and cool down
Whether you’re part of a competitive team or a “weekend warrior,” warming up your body prepares your cardiovascular system for activity and increases blood flow to your muscles. Cooling down after your workout allows for gradual recovery of both your heart rate and blood pressure. Both are important parts of exercising injury-free. Proper warm-ups and stretches specific to your sport can also help prevent painful pulled muscles.
2. Invest in the right equipment
No matter the sport or the amount of activity, investing in the proper shoes and equipment can help prevent injury along the way—especially when it comes to arch and heel support. Not sure what you need? Consider talking to a physical therapist, or athletic trainer. You might even benefit from inserts in your athletic shoes, which can absorb energy and help correct alignment. Our pedorthist can help with all your insert needs. Do a lot of running? Check out our post on how to find the perfect running shoe.
3. Use proper technique
From golfing, hiking and weight lifting to tennis, running, swimming and everything in between—every athletic activity involves technique. If you’re not actively working with coaches as part of your training, take time to learn the correct techniques associated with your sport or workout routine. For example, learning how to do the lunge correctly can protect your knees.
4. Switch up your routine
Not only does this beat workout boredom and keep you excited about athletic activity, it is essential for avoiding overuse injuries. By mixing up your activities, you give those overused muscles, joints and ligaments a chance to rest and recover before putting them into action again. Some great ways to give your joints a rest include elliptical machines, swimming, biking or yoga. Looking for new ideas? Check out these five unique ways to exercise outdoors this spring.
5. Don’t overdo it
You’ve heard the phrase, “listen to our body.” It’s one of the best things you can do to avoid a sports-related injury. When you begin a new sport or workout routine you’ve never tried before, begin slowly and steadily to avoid pulling or straining muscles. Even if you have been training hard, never let your competitive urges push you to strain or compromise your technique in an attempt to do more. Injury can often be the result.