As the sun comes back out and daylight savings gives us our evenings back, people are resurfacing from their winter hibernations.
I’ve seen it in the afternoons when I run, more couples out walking their dogs or with prams.
Recently I did a charity bike ride with 10,000 cyclists and lost count of the amount of times I heard people saying, “I wish I did more cycling through winter!”.
Despite living in a country that really doesn’t get that cold, it is a common experience that it’s harder to get out for that run or swim or bike ride when it’s dark, cold and generally unpleasant.
In light of this, as well as seeing an increase in activity related injuries the past few weeks I thought it pertinent to make a public service announcement regarding how best to safeguard against annoying injuries and ailments as you get moving more through the end of spring and summer!
DON’T IGNORE NIGGLES!
It is almost the Australian ethos to feel some mild discomfort with activity and think, ‘ahhh.. she’ll be right’ and continue pressing on.
Too often, these niggles progress and form the basis of a full blown injury.
My absolute favourite patient to see in the clinic is the one that comes in wanting to get on top of a small niggle before it becomes anything bigger.
Often in the space of 1-2 sessions we identify why it’s happening and how to address it without really having to modify exercise too much at all.
Don’t ignore niggles!
EASE BACK INTO THINGS.
Enthusiasm is a great characteristic to have, especially when it comes to staying or getting fit.
But it can often be the very thing that brings us undone.
If you’ve had a significant lay-off from your chosen exercise make sure you don’t get too keen in trying to get back to your peak too soon.
Our tissues are quite resilient but they do need graded exposure to load and adequate time to recover so they adapt and increase in resilience.
Aim for consistency with your exercise and small increases in distance, time, speed, gradient etc. as you work towards your goals.
It’s ok to have a lighter day or an easy session, you don’t always have to go hard (I needed to hear that too!).
MIX IT UP!
My last tip is mix it up!
I was recently reading about the incidence of injury in trail runners vs road runners and the findings are fascinating.
Trail runners experience much less bone stress injury, knee pain and heel pain than road runners.
It’s thought that the huge variance in terrain and footfall, shorter stride length and higher cadence with trail runners means that the tissues in the lower limb are being loaded in lighter and more various ways.
You can apply this theory to general exercise as well!
If all you do is run or swim or ride the repetitiveness of these activities increases the risk of something breaking down.
If you mix it up with some cross training or even something like yoga or pilates you’re giving some tissues a chance to recover and others a chance to work and strengthen.
So enjoy those extra hours of sunlight, enjoy the warmer mornings and be encouraged by seeing others shaking off their winter slumber and getting out and about.
Don’t ignore niggles, ease back into things and don’t be afraid to mix it up!