It’s that time of year again! Here in Toronto we go from winter right into summer. This usually means that people are out and about, gardening, running, swimming and getting active. What most people neglect to do is warm-up and cool-down before and after any physical exercise. You can prevent injury with a few solid tips to keep you limber and ready for the next day.
1. Warm up those cold muscles.
- Take the time and focus on the specific areas you’ll be using most, but don’t forget a light over-view of the rest of the body. For example, large arm circles to loosen up shoulders and arms, and squats (with no weight) to loosen the legs, buttocks and low back. 5-10 minutes is optimal.
2. Ease into the exercises slowly.
- Runners, gardeners and athletes alike: start off with a full mental body scan as you begin your exercise. Take note of anything tight or causing mild discomfort. Try stretching that area a bit more; quadriceps, calves or groin stretches. Take your time and hold the stretch for at least 15 seconds. IF there is a sharp pain at anytime… STOP to avoid further injury.
3. Use good form.
- Gardeners: Be wary of the way you lift those bags of soil and pots of plants. Engage the abdominals and lift with your knees. A physio friend wrote: “Keep your nose between your toes – meaning NO TWISTING. If your feet are locked into position when the rest of the body is moving, you will hurt yourself - muscle strain and back spasms are very common. Keep your feet moving to allow your body to move as a whole unit. Nose facing which-ever way your toes are facing.” If it is too heavy ASK FOR HELP.
4.Cool down & stretch.
- Hydrate often in the heat and take your time stretching the areas that you used the most.
- Try holding the stretches for at least 15 seconds and feel the stretch, breathe, allow your body to let go. SCAN & Stretch: Ankles, calves, hamstrings, quads, hips, low back and all the way up the body. Amazing!
Following some of these simple tips will allow you to enjoy all that these summer months have to offer. Enjoy your time out of the office, stay limber, but be diligent in your routine of self-care. Include massage to allow those muscles to recuperate faster, ward off fatigue and increase vitality. Your body will thank you.