These days there are countless fitness clubs to join, exercise classes to sample, and workout videos to download. But with all these options, which is the best? Let’s consider some popular choices.
The treadmill, elliptical machine and stationary bike are all popular in the gym. They deliver a healthy cardio workout making all three are a good choice. The stationary bike, however, allows for low-impact aerobic exercise (as opposed to the high impact activity on the treadmill). Biking, therefore, may be a particularly good choice for those recovering from hip or knee injuries.
When it comes to core strength and joint flexibility, Yoga is an excellent option. Limber joints and muscles are key to preventing injury, and yoga is an excellent way to maintain flexibility. It also emphasizes balance and stability, which is an added bonus.
High impact, high intensity exercise programs through classes at the gym or on DVDs or computers are also popular. These programs can be an excellent way to achieve a total body workout and improve conditioning. They may not be for everyone though. Athletes who participate in these programs should be sure to stretch both before and after. They should also carefully monitor their participation to avoid muscle strains or other over-use injuries.
Swimming is another excellent choice and now with the warmer weather, offers a healthy cardio workout. It is low impact on the joints and is an excellent option for those recovering from injuries including back and spine pain, hip and knee pain.
Ultimately, there is no perfect single way to exercise. In fact, one of the best ways to work out is to vary your exercises and to participate in a number of different types of activities. Varying your exercises allows you to involve different muscle groups. And it helps prevent over-use injuries.
Plus, it keeps things interesting! So go out and try something new. Your muscles and joints will thank you for it.
Our tendons are the great connectors of our bodies: transferring the forces from bone to muscle and back again, they ensure our movements while bearing the brunt of our exertions. It may come as no surprise then that the sudden shift from indoor to outdoor activities often results in overuse injuries that are entirely preventable.
Injury prevention involves stretching, having the proper equipment, and easing into any new routine. Tendons that aren’t prepared for a sudden change in activity can act a lot like a bundle of cold rubber bands pulled beyond their limit.
The bundle may remain intact, but some of the individual bands may break or fray. This is roughly what happens when our tendons are subjected to new or aggressive forces. The result? Tendinopathy, a condition characterized by degenerative changes in the tendon that cause pain and decreased mobility.
If left untreated, tendinopathy contributes to a cyclical process of worsening pain and inflammation. Initially, the pain can be discomforting yet bearable; many athletes will even continue their normal routines thinking they’ll work through it. But as the tendon weakens it overcompensates, further straining the tendon’s tiny cables and aggravating the condition.
So how does one break the cycle? Modify your activity and adopt a regimen that puts fewer stresses on the problem area. Additionally, one should ice the problem area after exercise and take anti- inflammatory to reduce swelling and pain.
This is also a good place to point out that our incredible team of Triarq physical therapists can help tailor a routine specifically for you, no matter where your tendon problem may be.
Some of the more interesting developments in treating tendinopathy are new creams that combine multiple medicines as part of a multi-pronged attack against the problem area. In addition to topical pain creams such as Lidocaine or Voltaren gel, we now have access to creams that combine a few medications that may be able to relieve pain while also reducing inflammation. The combination helps our patients experience faster relief while healing faster.
But our best advice is to stay healthy by preparing for the transition from treadmill to jogging trail. We know you might feel like jogging an extra five or ten miles on one of these bright and sunny days, but you’ve got all summer to do that! For everything else, we’re just a phone call away.
With fresh leaves on the trees and perfectly mild weather, spring may just be the best time for outdoor exercises. Every year it seems, we devote at least one article to getting ready for spring, yet we continue to treat injuries that could have either been prevented or lessened by following a few simple rules.
First, always start out slowly. The main injuries we see this time of year are overuse injuries such as runner’s knee. Even if you’ve been exercising in the gym this winter, switching to outdoor activities will engage your muscles and joints in ways that they may not be ready for. In order to acclimate your body to new conditions, start by doing a lighter workout and ramp up incrementally.
Second, always have the right equipment. When changing from indoor exercises to outdoor activities, make sure you throw out your worn out running shoes and replace them with a fresh pair. For those in-the-know, one of the best ways to pick out a new running shoe is to see a professional fitter at a shoe store or sports retailer. Some stores also offer treadmill analyses to give you a comprehensive overview as to the best shoe for your stride.
Proper clothing also plays a role in staying injury free. When you’re jogging outside and perspiring heavily, wearing clothes that draw away sweat and reduce friction will help reduce overall bodily stress and maximize the effectiveness of your workout. Also, most runners are probably aware of the importance of lubricants during long jogs. If you feel any irritation in sensitive areas, then you should consult with a professional trainer or physician about a lubricant that will keep you moving with ease.
Finally, going on a strength training routine can help prevent injuries of all kinds by building up muscles and firming up the connective tissue in your joints. Strength training reduces the risk of injury by reinforcing those connections—something that cardiovascular training can’t do on its own. If you have any questions, ask a professional trainer or physical therapist as to what might be the best strength training routine for you.
So what are some of the red flags that indicate you might have an overuse injury? Persistent pain and swelling point to injuries that may be more than just a minor sprain. If swelling doesn’t go away after a thorough icing of the problem area, that may indicate an overuse injury. Similarly, if that tweak in your knee persists even when you’re not working out, then it’s time to go see a professional.
It’s always best to seek out a like-minded soul when it comes to finding out more about your springtime injury. If you’re a runner, then try to see an orthopedist who’s also a runner. If you’re a cyclist, seek a physician that knows about cycling. The reason is one of relatedness: seeing a doctor that knows your sport will help inform the diagnosis and allow for a better response to your injury.
Spring is not inherently hazardous, but there is something to say about overzealous individuals who end up as patients in our practice. Know your limits and stick to the basics: new shoes, new shirts, and, especially, a new attitude for a new season.
Have a wonderful spring and stay safe!