Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health, and summer is the perfect time to get moving. Whether you're looking to kick-start a new fitness routine or keep a good thing going, just make sure you’re doing it safely.
The days of “feel the burn” and “no pain no gain” are long gone. Safe (and sane) exercise in moderation is the best way to stay fit and injury free, this summer and year-round.
Some of the most common injuries we see at our Indigo Health clinics are sports and workout overuse injuries. Any type of exercise puts repetitive stress on the tendons, muscles, bones, nerves and cartilage. Often, the stress causes microtraumas, or minor injuries that heal with rest.
But when you exercise too much, your body doesn’t have the chance to repair the damage, leaving you prone to overuse injuries, such as:
- Patellar (kneecap) tendinitis
- Heel bursitis
- Stress fractures
- Nerve entrapment
- Elbow cartilage damage
- Sprains and strains
While Indigo Urgent Care is here to treat minor injuries and fractures, the last thing you want is to be sidelined for the summer with a preventable injury.
As you plan your summer fitness activities, here are a few ways to keep you and your loved ones safe, healthy and on the move.
1. Balance your fitness.
Overuse injuries occur when you use the same muscles in the same way. A well-rounded fitness program should include strength training, cardiovascular exercise and flexibility. Mix it up to get a total body workout, prevent boredom and reduce your chance of injury.
2. Warm up and stretch.
When you don’t properly warm up or stretch before exercise, you can pull, strain or sprain muscles or cause cardiovascular distress. To warm up, run in place for a few minutes, gently mimic the movements of the exercise you’ll be doing, and breathe slowly and deeply. This will increase your heart rate and blood flow and loosen up muscles, tendons, joints and ligaments.
Once you’re warmed up, stretch to make the muscles more pliable and less likely to tear. Inhale before each stretch, hold it for 10 to 20 seconds, and then slowly exhale and release the stretch. Never stretch to the point of pain.
3. Wear the right gear.
Wear well-fitting, supportive athletic shoes appropriate for the exercise you’re doing, and replace them when they begin to wear out. Loose-fitting, comfortable clothing allows you to move freely and release body heat.
In hot, humid weather you can lose over a quart of sweat in an hour of moderate to intense exercise. Be sure to hydrate before, during and after a workout. By the time you’re thirsty, you may already be dehydrated.
You should drink one pint of water about 15 minutes before you start exercising and another pint after you cool down. During exercise, drink a cup of water about every 15-20 minutes.
5. Cool down.
Your cool down should take twice as long as your warmup. Once you reach the end of your workout, slow your motions and lessen the intensity of your movements for at least 10 minutes before you stop completely. When your skin is dry from the sweat and your temperature cool, you'll know that you have cooled down properly.
6. Take a break.
The best exercise routines include days of rest to give your body the chance to heal from soreness and minor injuries. If you feel pain or fatigue on a day when you're supposed to exercise, consider resting that day rather than pushing your body.
7. Beat the heat.
When the heat is on, take steps to keep cool:
- Wear light-weight, moisture-wicking clothing.
- Adjust workout times to take advantage of cooler mornings or evenings.
- Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 40 or higher. Apply it at least 15 minutes before you go outside and reapply at least every 2 hours.
- On especially hot days, seek shaded areas for exercise or opt for an indoor workout.
When you exercise in warm weather, it’s important to know the warning signs of heat-related illness. Heat exhaustion symptoms include fatigue, weakness, nausea, dizziness, muscle cramps and increased body temperature.
Symptoms of heat stroke include the inability to sweat, acute breathing problems, disorientation and loss of consciousness.
Indigo is here when you need care
Even when you take precautions, injuries happen. If you or a family member experience a minor injury, seek medical treatment right away. Indigo Urgent Care has more than 30 locations across Washington with onsite X-ray.
Our friendly medical professionals are here every day from 8 am to 8 pm to offer immediate care and get you feeling better and back in action in no time. We also offer online care 24/7.