After a tough Vermont winter, where the sun was a stranger far too often, many of us are exited for spring and a chance to enjoy the outdoors. Tempted by the blue skies and warmer temperatures, we’re ready to get in our first run, bike ride, or hike. However, this enthusiasm may cause us to end up with unexpected injuries due to starting off with too much, too soon, and we ultimately find ourselves sidelined for weeks to come.

Whether you kept your winter workouts indoors or decided to take the winter off all together to hibernate, the transition from winter into spring poses a risk of injury for everyone looking to pick back up with their favorite outdoor activity. To avoid missing one of the best times of year due injury, incorporate these tips into your winter-to-spring transition.

Start Slow

Don’t let longer, sunnier days and warmer weather entice you to run further, bike longer, or take on a more strenuous hike right out of the gate. Exercising caution to ensure you don’t overdo it right from the start may help you avoid a long-term injury. Start slow, building up a solid base of fitness, before taking on additional intensity. When looking to add more volume into your spring activity, don’t add too much too soon. With running as an example, each week total mileage should only increase about 10% as a foundation is built.

Cross Train

Mix things up with your training, adding in a resistance workout to complement your outdoor activity. It is beneficial to take days off from your normal routine, and replace it with something else that is active. For example, if you spend long days riding your bike, take a day off and go for a hike instead. This not only gives time for recovery, but keeps things fresh, leading to greater motivation to stay active.

Stretching

Both activity, and a lack thereof, can cause our bodies to become stiff. To help avoid injury this spring, make sure to stretch both before and after your exercise. Use one of your “off” days from your normal routine to attend a yoga class, or other stretching-focused recovery activity. By avoiding stiffness, you are more likely to stay injury free this spring.

Keep Expectations Realistic

Keep your expectations realistic as to where you should be in regard to your fitness level, and slowly work on building back up to your goals. You may have finished your longest race of the year in the fall, but don’t think you can do that same distance and pace come spring time. With proper training and recovery, you can get back to that point, but attempting to pick up where you left off is a recipe for disaster.

Listen To Your Body

Arguably, most important is to listen to your body. If you are training too hard, too soon, your body will be sure to let you know. Do not ignore early warning signs of a more serious injury such as prolonged soreness, sensitivity to touch, or long-term aching. Instead, take time off to recover, be sure to be drinking plenty of fluids, eat well, get enough sleep, and seek professional help when needed.

Ryan Grey is Assistant Director of Fitness at the Greater Burlington YMCA. He holds a BS in Exercise Science from the University of Vermont and is a certified personal trainer. To learn more about fitness, including personal training, at the YMCA, contact Ryan at rgrey@gbymca.org or call 802-652-8183.

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