To help prevent overuse injuries, follow these tips from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and American College of Sports Medicine.
Use proper equipment. Replace your athletic shoes as they wear out. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes that let you move freely and are light enough to release body heat.
Aim for balanced fitness. Develop a balanced fitness program that incorporates cardiovascular exercise, strength training, balance, agility, and flexibility. Add activities and new exercises cautiously — Iis best to add no more than one or two new activities per workout. Be sure to check with your primary care physician before you begin a new exercise regimen.
Warm up. Before stretching, jog in place or stationary cycle for a few minutes to prepare for exercise. Breathe slowly and deeply, or gently rehearse the motions of the exercise.
Drink enough water to prevent dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Drink one pint of water 15 minutes before you start exercising and another pint after you cool down. Have a drink of water every 20 minutes or so while you exercise.
Cool down. Make cooling down the final phase of your exercise routine. It should take twice as long as your warm-up. Slow your motions and lessen the intensity of your movements for at least 10 minutes before you stop completely.
Stretch. Begin stretches slowly and carefully until the point of muscle tension. Hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, then slowly and carefully release it. Inhale before each stretch and exhale as you release. Repeat each stretch two to three times. Never stretch to the point of pain, always maintain control, and avoid bounce on a muscle that is fully stretched.
Rest. Schedule regular days off from vigorous exercise and rest when tired. Fatigue and pain are good reasons not to exercise.
Avoid the “weekend warrior” syndrome. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five days per week. If you are pressed for time, you can break it up into 10-minute periods.
Physical therapy can help athletes stay at the top of their game. If you suffer from symptoms of an overuse injury, talk with your doctor about rehabilitation.
Princeton Rehabilitation provides care for all types of athletes and offers specific rehabilitation programs for golfers, runners, tennis players, dancers, and musicians. Treatment includes an individualized evaluation and plan of care along with home exercises, self-care techniques, and prevention education.
To find a physical therapist with Princeton Rehabilitation, call 609-853-7840 or visit PrincetonHCS.org