Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Fitness Tips for Recreational Athletes

By Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)

Physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.  Being active can help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce blood pressure, build strong bones, relieve stress, and maintain flexibility and good posture.  Included below are some tips to help you protect your body and prevent injury so that you can get the most from your favourite activity this summer season.

1.    Warm-up and cool-down both before and after your game.  Include gentle stretching and range of motion exercises, as well as a brisk walk or gentle jog to loosen the muscles and joints.

2.    Improve your performance by including flexibility and strengthening exercises as part of your training and practice routine.  Muscles act as important shock absorbers and help prevent strains and sprains of vulnerable regions such as the back and neck, along with the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, and ankle joints.

3.    Nourish your body by staying hydrated.  Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after physical activity - even in colder weather.  Remember that once you are thirsty, you are already starting to dehydrate.  Dehydration affects your energy level and your physical functioning. 

4.    Prepare for the elements.  Avoid sunburn which is a result of overexposure to the sun’s UV radiation and can contribute to certain skin cancers, and a premature aging and wrinkling of the skin.  To protect from sun exposure, apply sunscreen and wear a wide-brim hat and light-colored clothing that covers your exposed skin.  Your eyes should also be protected with UV blocking sunglasses.  Outdoor activities and sports should be limited to the early morning or late afternoon when UV rays are not as strong.  Be cautious on cloudy days, as your skin is still susceptible to burn under these conditions.

5.   Learn the proper technique.  Learn the right technique for your sport from the beginning.  Using the wrong sport-specific technique can create incorrect muscle memory and can make it difficult to break bad habits.  Poor technique can also cause injury to your joints and muscles.

6.    Use the right equipment.  Make sure your equipment is the right fit, height and capacity for you to avoid a sport-related injury.  Recreational athletes should have their equipment professionally fitted and checked before starting out.

7.    Avoid over-training.  Too much.  Too fast.  Too soon. Over-training is one of the most common causes of recreational athletic injuries.  Take your time and work up to it slowly before pushing yourself too hard. Remember – rest is as important as training.  Take a training break and give your body a chance to recover.

In the event that you suffer a muscle or joint injury that does not subside, you should contact a licensed health professional.  For more information, visit www.nhwc.ca.  The author credits the Canadian Chiropractic Association (CCA) in the preparation of this educational information for use by its members and the public.

This article is a basic summary for educational purposes only.  It is not intended, and should not be considered, as a replacement for consultation, diagnosis or treatment by a duly licensed health practitioner.