Spring into Sports – Preparing Your Body for Exercise

As the frozen tundra finally has subsided from freezing us into extinction, we can now start doing non-winter activities outside.

My runners who are some of my most driven athletes go crazy when not able to run.

The weather is the external threat to running, but it is critical that runners make sure their bodies are ready to get back outside.

When you are a teenager or younger, stretching is not as important as when you are older.

With age, muscles and tendons get stiffer and tighter and are more prone to sprains, strains and tears.

The key to stretching is first warming up the muscles. This means a light jog or jumping on a exercise bike for a few minutes first and then stretching.

Do NOT stretch cold!

The stretches that are key for runners are the quadriceps, hamstrings and Achilles (gastroc-soleus).

The quads are best stretched by lying faced down and bringing your foot to your butt.

The hamstrings are stretched by sitting in a V and reaching for your toes.

Achilles is stretched planting your foot flat, keeping your knee straight and reaching forward.

These stretches should be done for 20-30 seconds three times in a row alternating right and left legs.

Other stretches that my spring athletes need are sport dependent.

Tennis players and golfers need to stretch out their shoulders and arms as well as their backs.

Soccer players should also stretch out hips and groin muscles.

Probably the most important thing to do when getting back into sports for the spring is to start slow.

Build up the amount of time and intensity slowly.

Continue to push yourself and do more but allow your body the time to adjust to beginning activities again.

Enjoy the better weather and prevent injuries.

Dr. Rick Weinstein, MD, MBA is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine. He is the Director of Orthopedic Surgery at Westchester Health Associates and has subspecialty training in knee and shoulder surgery, including minimally invasive surgery and arthroscopy. Dr. Weinstein is a Board Examiner for the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons, determining certification for other orthopedic surgeons.