Summer has officially arrived in Colorado! You know what that means – snowstorms the day after a 70-degree day! Well, that, and it also means prime time for a few of our favorite cardiovascular activities: hiking, biking, and running (some of us anyway). We know that you don’t want to suffer an injury that may set you back for the season because you went too hard, too soon. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are five ways to keep yourself strong before you really hit the pavement!
- Start slow, especially if you had trouble keeping up your training in the colder months. The easiest way to hurt yourself is to pick up right where you left off, hoping you’re conditioned for it. Fight the urge! Be kind to that body – go easy for the first week, then increase your distance or your intensity no more than 10% at a time from there.
- Strength train! Squats, lunges, and heel raises are easy to incorporate into a weekly routine. Start without weight to assess whether you have pain or difficulty performing these movements. Add weight by using dumbbells (if you have them) or holding on to a book or can of beans. Increase your muscle endurance by doing more repetitions.
- Vary your exercise. If you’re a runner, you’ll get a lot out of strength training, but going for a hike rather than a long run is just as good for your heart and lungs. Same goes if you’re a cyclist: go for a walk or a hike. Try to avoid performing the same activities every day. Varying your training decreases your risk of injury.
- Incorporate rest days. If you’re competitive, and I know some of you reading this are, you’ll have a hard time with this one. Having at least one rest day per week will work wonders. Rest allows muscle to rebuild so you can return to your sport stronger. Its especially important after a long run, ride, hike, or a particularly hard strength training day. If you push yourself to keep working when you’re tired, chances of injury increase. So, take a breather and rest!
- See a physical therapist for aches, pains, or old injuries. I make this plug because I’m biased as a physical therapist, but it’s true. Maybe you don’t have any current injuries, and that’s great! Come and see us anyway and we can evaluate you for any weaknesses or risks and design a program that will have you moving better than ever for the season.
We live in a great state here that provides so many different opportunities for outdoor exercise with beautiful scenery. Be sure to take care of yourself, too, so that you don’t miss a moment of it! As always, please reach out to us with concerns or questions! We’re here to help.