Do’s and Don’ts for Staying Healthy During That Weird but Warm Winter Weather
This time of year it seems like you could be shoveling snow one day and then enjoying a freak fifty-degree day the next. Take a look outside the next time the mercury climbs and you’ll probably see lots of walkers, runners, hikers, and bikers taking advantage of the nice weather. If you’re one of them, you’ll need to take some simple preventive steps to make sure that you don’t end up with a bit more than you bargained for on your cabin-fever fitness break! We compiled some “do’s and don’ts” that can help you ease into your regular outdoor routine without risking injury that could seriously slow your roll come spring.
Don’t push it: While your brain may remember that end of season finish line, bike mileage, or walking routine, your body may not. If you channeled your inner grizzly bear and hibernated somewhat over winter, don’t rush out the second the thermometer hits friendly digits and try to pick up where you left off.
Do ease in: We know it’s tempting to start where you finished, but you’ll be there again before you know it. By starting right, you’ll give yourself a much better chance of getting back up to speed without injury. Take it slow and increase distance/effort gradually and by the week instead of by the day. Give your body time to adjust to its new-old routine.
Don’t dive in: It’s easy to see some sunshine and hear that forecast and go right out the front door, ready to go – but skipping a warm up can be a recipe for disaster.
Do warm up properly: Give your body a chance to prepare before you put yourself through a work out that you may not have experienced since late fall.
Don’t crash on the couch: After your nice day out it may be tempting to crash on the couch, but a cool down is important especially when you’ve been less active during the winter.
Do cool down: Set aside some time after you’re finished for a light stretching session to cool-down and relax those muscles that are just getting back into the game.
Don’t push through pain: It’s easy to get excited to be back outside after feeling cooped up indoors in sub-zero weather. Don’t be so enthusiastic that you ignore your body’s warning system.
Do pay attention: If you have minor pain that fades after you’re warmed up, it’s probably not something to worry about too much; however, pay attention to any pain that persists or worsens with activity. Pain that keeps you up or wakes you up at night is also a danger sign.
Don’t skip the ice: We know, you don’t want to use ice when it’s already cold out, but if your muscles are sore and you tend to have some nagging issues ice can really help.
Do ice (and heat): Ice is good for inflammation while heat is good for areas that are tight. If you have muscles that get a little sore after your bike/run/hike then you may want to ice them. If you have areas that are tight and need to be stretched frequently those may benefit from heat.
By following some basic guidelines, you can reduce your risk for injury and set yourself up to be ready to go once the warm weather is here to stay. Enjoy the unusual warm days when you can but be sure to use common sense and our guidelines to guard against injury and stay healthy. If you have movement, balance or strength issues or are experiencing pain that’s holding you back, contact Body One Physical Therapy today. We are a locally-owned physical therapy practice serving central Indiana: downtown Indianapolis, north Indianapolis, south Indianapolis, Zionsville, and Fishers. We are ready to help you head into spring in great shape!