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Avoid injury this spring

The Valemount Mountain Bike Park north of Valemount, B.C. | File photo

Sean FitzGerald | Special to the Fitzhugh

Time to start storing the skis and start tuning up the bikes.

For many of us, this means a transition from winter hibernation to summer madness, and this sudden transition can create issues.

Even if you were active over the winter, those activities might not use the same muscles or movements and some of us struggled to stay as active as usual over the winter.

Either way, we are slowly emerging from hibernation and shaking the rust off to get ready for summer. 

So, let’s break this into our top six things to do to get ready for Summer.

  1. Get moving: It doesn’t have to be pretty, dedicated or even a whole lot, but your body craves movement, and if you expect it to hold up as you put on the kilometres, then treat it right and get it moving. Motion is lotion for our body, so keep this in mind when you consider a warm up prior to your activity. For hiking, this may mean starting at a slower pace or walking a little on flats before you start your grind up hill. Most of the time, the best warm up is the activity you are about to do but at a slower pace.
  1. Resistance training: Not everyone’s favourite pastime, but it is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. Strength training reduces injuries, boosts confidence, increases quality of life in older adults and improves mental health. Exercises can be at the gym or at home. It can be with weights, body weight, cans from the pantry, resistance bands, backpacks or you can McGyver something in your garage. We get caught up in the how, but literally just push, pull or lift relatively heavy stuff and move it around safely. Three days a week is all you need.
  1. Gradual increases: Our bodies react very poorly to sudden increases in demand. If we slowly increase the intensity, distance and pace of our activities, our body adapts. A 10-20 per cent increase in intensity or volume per week works great. That increase is easy for distance but harder to measure in intensity, but you should think about both. Increasing your pace 20 per cent and your distance 20 per cent in the same week is not a good idea. This applies to bikers, hikers, runners or anyone else doing more endurance activities.
  1. Be realistic: This was a tougher winter for me in regard to activity. COVID, life and work contributed to a drop in activity levels. So, check the ego and be realistic about your goals. Push your races and goals to the middle to end of the season to give you time to get your body where it needs to be. If you have been training all winter for the spring race season then good for you, your body should be ready to perform.
  1. Manage your stress: Increased stress equates to a much higher likelihood of injury. Chronic stress does many poor things to our body from interrupting sleep habits, to increasing cortisol levels in our blood, to inhibiting the performance of muscles to do their job. Mental health and stress management play key roles in preventing injury. Being outside, exercising and talking to someone helps reduce stress. Take a moment to consider what you need to stay mentally healthy.
  1. Tune it up or break it in: One other major reason for injury is gear failure. So, tune your bike up, check your shoes for replacement and see what else needs a quick spring fix.

Good luck with the transition to summer, and keep the above in mind.

If you have issues that have nagged you over the winter, think about getting yourself tuned up prior to summer.

If you need a nudge to get exercising we can build programs dedicated to your goals.

You can visit us at www.jasperphysioandhealth.ca

Sean FitzGerald is a physiotherapist and owner of the Jasper Physiotherapy and Health Centre.

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