Summer is finally here and in full effect Portland! When the sun shines around here everyone and we mean EVERYONE is outdoors. People pursue getting back in shape or taking up a new hobby like hiking, rock climbing or biking, many go camping and some are anxious to start their favorite outdoor activities again.
Unfortunately, along with all this activity we see an increase in injuries this time of year. Pulled muscles, sprains, stiffness and sore joints are just a handful of issues we can all run into after a period of being more sedentary. The heat can also pose potential health risks.
To help you make the most of Portland’s gorgeous sun dappled days, we’re arming our Weekend Warriors with this list of tips for combating injuries this summer.
Warm up your muscles before you begin any exercise or physical activity. It’s extremely hard on your muscles and joints to jump right into extreme movements or full bore exercise. Begin by doing some easy walking or a light version of whatever activity you’re about to engage in. Start slow and build up as your muscles gradually warm-up. You’ll find you’ll perform better and feel less pain and tightness if you begin in this manner.
SKIP STRETCHES AT THE BEGINNING
Contrary to conventional wisdom, there is now mounting evidence that stretching cold muscles weakens them and could leave you vulnerable to injury. Skip it until post workout.
Never stop your activity and go home or just sit or lie down. Be sure and cool down appropriately after each workout. Again, like your warm-up, try a slowed down version of your preferred activity. Take some deep calming breathes. Now that your muscle are good and warm, perform some gentle stretches, holding them for 30 seconds or more. Do not bounce or stretch too hard or fast as you can cause injury, strain or cramping. Then hit the showers.
By varying your workout each day, you ensure that different muscle groups get regularly exercised and worked out in different ways. Add to that variance in terrain and route and you have a winning combo for an enjoyable summer in the sun and a healthy body. This approach can help keep you fit and limber and help prevent imbalances.
Increased activity means extra calories burned, as well as electrolytes and nutrients that need replenishing. Protein shakes, fruits and veggies and well-balanced meals will all keep your muscles well-nourished and full of energy. Remember, sparkling water with slices of citrus, iced herbal teas and diluted juices (half water half 100% juice) all count towards your daily intake.
HYDRATE HYDRATE HYDRATE
We cannot say it enough — Drink plenty of liquids, especially in hot weather and when increasing activity. Most of us drink too little water everyday as it is. A good rule of thumb is a minimum 6 to 8 ounces a day or half your body weight in ounces. But as weather conditions and activity increase so should your water intake. Replacing those electrolytes and amino acids lost through sweat and exercise is also important but many commercial drinks are packed with sugar, artificial flavors and colorings. We recommend a product called Emergen-C sold at Trader Joe’s, Fred Meyer’s Nutrition Center or New Seasons Markets. Try the Lite (sugar free) Blue (berry flavored — proceeds go to save our oceans and beaches) and the lime flavored Electro-Mix — these versions all come with electrolytes (the first two have Vitamin C and B to help boost immunity and keep your muscles loose and relaxed.)
DON’T FORGET THE BODYWORK
To keep your muscles in good working order and your body in proper alignment, it’s important to have any structural imbalances corrected. This helps to prevent future injury and can also help strains, sprains and injuries heal faster.
Follow these tips to enjoy the summer sun and all your favorite activities, injury free!
Now go get ’em!