Yes, here it comes, spring is on its way and it finally looks like life might be starting to get back to normal. That means golf, baseball, and other outdoor activities but wait, maybe you haven’t been as active as usual and you might be setting yourself up for a big disappointment. Many of us have been chomping at the bit to get back to the activities that we love, but there’s nothing worse than taking that first swing or running down to first base and feeling a twinge or a twang signaling that you are going to be out of action again due to an injury.
Now is the time to start taking action to minimize the chance that you might hurt yourself. It always makes me cringe when I hear the usual baseball/softball ritual involving starting the season with a good old fashion tournament. What could be better after a long winter of couch surfing without throwing or running than playing four to six games in two days. Doesn’t that sound like such a good idea? Every chiropractor, physiotherapist and massage therapists know that with the coming of spring also comes the complaints of shoulder pain, back pain and Achilles’ injuries as well as a myriad of other possible ailments.
So, now is the time to start taking steps to avoid these problems. If you haven’t been doing much activity, get started. One easy way is to just start walking. Sometimes we set our goals so high that they seem insurmountable, we get intimidated and so we just give up with out even starting. Walking is easy, you just need a good pair of shoes or boots depending on the weather and off you go. You don’t even need to break a sweat so there is no need to change or requirement for a shower afterwards. Your current fitness level will determine your starting point but start slowly and ease into it. If you aren’t sure how long you should be walking for then check with a trusted healthcare provider. If you have any specific health concerns such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or breathing problems check in with your medical doctor.
Now that you have started some cardiovascular training, this will warm the body up and is a good time to do a little stretching. A full body routine is of course best, but be sure to concentrate on areas where you may have had previous injuries or areas that your particular sport or activity can stress. It is always a good idea to concentrate on the lower back, shoulder girdle, hamstrings and lower legs (calves and Achilles’ ). Stretching requires moving to a point of gentle tension and holding that position for at least 15 to 20 seconds. Do not bounce or be too forceful. Some mild discomfort indicates that you are doing it correctly but it should not be severely painful.
Continue the program described above for approximately two weeks and if it goes well then you should start adding some more sport/activity specific components. Weather permitting, this would be the time to start practice swinging with the golf club or baseball bat. If golf is your game, then start with a short iron like a nine iron. Similarly with baseball start with easy half to three quarter effort swings and gradually increase to a more regular swing over a week or two. For baseball, this would be a good time to start with some moderate short sprints the same distance as between the bases. Be cautious here, start easy and slow and gradually increase the effort. This is also a good time to get your baseball shoes out and wear them to get the ankles and Achilles’ tendons prepared as well. These steps may seem small and even silly to some but they could go a long way toward preventing injuries this spring.