17 Aug 2008
Proper Warm-up for Summer Sports (if you do more than just skate)
As the temperature rises, many of us like to enjoy outdoor sports such as golf, tennis, biking, and rollerblading. When resuming an activity after a long winter off, remember that your muscles need to ease into it, or you may become sore. Each sport or activity uses muscles differently, and your indoor gym workouts may not have prepared you to return to sport full force. Try fifteen minutes instead of thirty the first time you resume an activity, and gradually increase your exercise time or cardiovascular intensity as your body positively responds to it. Don’t overdo it!
Tennis and golf require flexibility and strength of your trunk, legs, and upper extremity. It is important to incorporate a dynamic warm-up before playing to prevent injury. Static stretching (a slow hold for 20 seconds or more) is good, but should be done in conjunction with a more active warm-up to raise your heart rate and body temperature and lengthen muscles. Try to get all joints moving through their full range of motion before you play, especially the hips and shoulders. Both of these sports involve a significant amount of trunk rotation; therefore, a few minutes of active rotation exercises are necessary to prepare the range of motion of your spine for play. A stiff back may lead to a short swing on that first drive or serve! Golfers must also stretch their hamstrings, calves, and hip flexors to achieve proper posture for their swing, preventing low back pain. For you tennis players, make sure you stretch your leg muscles as well as complete a short jog or some light agility drills to prepare your body for various planes of movement.
Rollerblading and biking, typically only spring through fall activities, can cause muscle soreness after that winter layoff if you are not properly stretched. In rollerblading, a slight bend at the hips is required to properly push off, so try to dynamically stretch your hamstrings, lower back, and gluts prior to exercise. For biking, it is important to stretch your quads, calves, hamstrings, and lower back prior to exercising. Begin blading or biking at a slow speed for five minutes on a level surface, and work up to high speeds on hills just as you would on an exercise machine. Your heart rate should gradually increase; it is not safe to begin exercise at high velocity without warm-up. Also include a cool down at the end of your workout, followed by static stretching of all your lower extremity muscles.
With further questions about safe exercise and warm-up, contact your health care professional. Enjoy the outdoors!
Lauren Downes, MSPT
Lauren Downes, MSPT