Longer summer days mean more time spent outside – and more physical activity. Some of us are looking forward to running, playing sports or even participating in RAGBRAI. But is your body prepared? Dr. Chris Ketter of UnityPoint Clinic, an avid cyclist, breaks down the best ways to move your body to avoid sports injuries this summer.
Get the Most Out of Your Stretch
Those with sports-related injuries often claim, “But I stretched before!” However, in injury prevention, it’s important to understand what the body needs to properly perform.
Static stretching is when you hold a single position for some time; there is no bouncing or movement during the stretch. Did you know? Holding that hamstring stretch just before an activity like running can actually hurt your performance.
Static stretching is good for the body—just not immediately before physical activity. Dr. Ketter says to try a full body stretch when you wake up or right before bedtime!
Instead of static stretching, a dynamic (active) warm-up such as jogging, dynamic stretching and sport-specific warm-ups are better options for injury prevention. This movement increases blood flow to the muscles and enhances muscle fiber activation, better preparing you for activity.
Dr. Ketter recommends a cool-down stretch while the muscles still have blood flowing. Adding in some heat, a massage and slight vibratory pulses, using a massager, can help the muscles to lengthen and get the hysteresis (the initial stretch) and the creep (the stretch that goes a little further) in action within the muscle fibers.
The Key to Injury Prevention
Take things slowly! If it’s been a few months since you’ve consistently worked out, give your body time to adjust. If you are restarting from nothing, then a slow progression is recommended to build back to your previous performance. Go for a one mile run and focus on time rather than beginning with two miles. Eventually, your distance abilities will return. Consider a couch-to-5K program or some leisurely bike rides before you start testing your performance – but be sure to properly warm up and cool down!
Each sports activity is unique, which means your body may require specific warm-up and cool-down exercises to achieve optimal performance. If you are experiencing pain during physical activity, it may be time to visit Dr. Ketter at UnityPoint Clinic Sports Medicine and Concussion Center or UnityPoint Clinic Family Medicine – Ankeny Prairie Trail. He can help you reach your athletic goals and ensure you have the tools to do so while avoiding injury. Get your body moving— book an appointment directly online or call (515) 964-6999 today.