Now that spring is finally here and the weather is nicer, many people like to exercise outside. If you haven’t had a regular routine throughout the winter, it’s best to take a few precautions before you start to prevent strains, sprains and overuse injuries.
Before beginning a regular exercise program, it is always important to talk to your doctor to ensure safety and benefit. Start slow and vary your exercises through cross training. Don’t start back where you left off, but instead ease into the routine. Before working out, make sure you warm up the muscles in your body by doing an activity such as walking, jogging or biking for 5 to 10 minutes before stretching the muscles. Regularly stretching, while often ignored, can have the biggest benefit for your joints. Stretching decreases uneven pull on joints before exercise, and helps loosen muscles up after exercise.
Exercise plays a vital role in both protecting your joints, but must be individualized to your capabilities and needs. Combine strength building and cardiovascular activity into a regular exercise routine to help prevent joint injury by strengthening the muscles surrounding your joints. Eating well and exercising will help you maintain a healthy weight, which reduces stress on your joints.
Posture and proper body mechanics play a huge role in preventing joint injury and pain. Whether you’re standing or sitting, maintaining correct posture with your head in a neutral position, shoulder blades back and back straight helps alleviate pressure on the spine. Work to reverse the forward bent postures we find ourselves in so often throughout our daily lives. It is important to maintain a neutral spine while performing activities, such as lifting, and focus on maintaining correct posture while sitting and moving.
If joint pain and stiffness is beginning to disrupt several aspects of your daily life, it is extremely important to discuss the condition with your doctor. The exceptional team of orthopedic specialists and physical therapists at Cone Health is dedicated to educating individuals in the community about the importance of exercising while helping to prevent joint pain and injury.
Timothy Murphy, MD, is an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in joint replacement and sports surgery in Greensboro and a member of the Cone Health Medical and Dental Staff. Dr. Murphy received his medical degree from University of North Carolina School of Medicine and completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at the UNC Department of Orthopaedics.