For the first several years in my profession as a PT after graduating with my Doctorate in 2008, I couldn't relate too much to my patients. I was young, active, healthy, training for and running half-marathons and marathons and obstacle races. I felt great and barely ever warmed up or stretched. I could blast through workouts, spin classes, and runs without an issue. I treated patients day in and day out with a variety of injuries...strains, sprains, post-surgery, muscle spasms and tear, etc. I knew what to do and how to help them, but couldn't relate.
Well.....fast forward a few years, and a few years short of my 40's, things have changed! I have to warm-up and cool down, I better make time to stretch and recover, and no more two-a-days or back to back hard workouts. And that's okay! But my latest reminder of no longer being in my 20's just happened when I got home and my husband says, "let's go play tennis!" Neither of us play tennis. But my brain still thinks I'm 20 and it sounded fun, so I said, "let's go!" We rush there with the boys, they're running around like crazy and I didn't take any time to warm up or get my body prepared. Ten minutes in, I strain my left calf. Like bad. Like limping, can't even walk, wondering if I tore it. And annoyed because I've been working out and doing calf raises with 30 pound dumbbells, they should have held up just fine! Then I remind myself that I'm not 20 and I should have warmed up "I'll do better next time!" Thanks to being a PT and having access to a laser, I'm doing just fine now, thanks for wondering ; ).
So, after learning a few lessons over the past few years, in addition to my training in PT school, I'll share some tips for all of you as you get into different Summer activities. Hopefully you'll be smarter and more successful than me. These ARE for everyone, I don't mean to single out people over 20, we do see young people with injuries every day! And good habits are easier to keep when you start young!
Warm-up before any activity with some simple movements, no long-holding static stretches! Great warm-ups include heel walks, toe walks, knee grabs, Frankensteins, and heel grabs. These prepare your body for activity. Aim for 30-60 seconds of each prior to activity.
Drink enough water and stay hydrated. Aim for 1 ounce of water for every 1 pound of body weight.
Listen to your body and take breaks as needed. If you start to feel something giving you a warning sign, like an achy knee, don't ignore it! Your body is telling you something. Take it from me.
Static stretches are best after your activity. Some muscle groups to focus on include your calves, quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, and hip rotators.
If you do strain something during activity, don't stretch it for 10-14 days! Injured tissue needs some time to heal. It's okay to go through your normal range of motion, but if you strain or tear a hamstring or calf, for example, first give it about 10 days of healing before trying any aggressive stretching.
Stay active and moving throughout the day! If you move throughout the day, your body will be better prepared for activity when the time comes. Your muscles and joints can stiffen pretty fast when you're sitting in one spot all day, especially as you get a little older. Aim to get up and move every 30 minutes, even if it's just for 30 seconds to a minute. That's way better than not at all!
Let us know what you have planned to do this Summer in the comments below, or shoot us any questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
Feel free to share this with anyone who may benefit, and if you would like to discuss any of these ideas or issues holding you back, set up a free phone or in-person consultation with one of our Doctors here https://www.thegreenroomptny.com/events-and-offers
In good health,
Dr. Ashley Bertorelli, PT and Founder of The Green Room Physical Therapy
Clifton Park & Troy