If you’re still slogging through the post-holiday hangovers and nasty winter weather, it’s hard to pull yourself out of hibernation. But with spring just around the corner, now’s the time for getting right back into your fitness routine.
Whether you’re training for a marathon or want to start cycling into work, easing your way back into exercise slowly is key. If you’ve been relatively inactive for several months, your body won’t perform the way it did last summer. This means you could experience muscle strain, which could lead to long-term injury.
The good news is that you can minimize discomfort with a little planning and preparation. Take a look at our tips on how you can train for spring sports and other activities pain-free.
Take stock of your fitness level
Assess your current physical abilities before jumping back into your regular exercise routine. This will keep you from hurting yourself after pushing too hard, too soon.
One of the best ways to take stock of your fitness level is by performing a series of quick and easy tests, like:
- Measuring your waist circumference
- Measuring your Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Sitting on the floor with your legs stretched in front of you, and seeing how far forward you can reach
- Timing how long it takes for you to walk one kilometre
Also, see how many sit-ups and push-ups you can do to help determine where you are on the fitness spectrum. This assessment should dictate your pace going forward. If you’re starting out with the treadmill, for example, set it at the rate it took you to walk one kilometre. Then spend the next several weeks working up from that number. But keep your expectations realistic -- don’t expect to double that rate in a matter of days.
Create a clear (and manageable) schedule
Prioritizing your time is key to developing a successful spring training routine. Many of us will make mental notes of when it’s time to hit the gym. But actually scheduling that workout into your smartphone or daybook will help you stay focused. The same way you’d book a dentist appointment or dinner out with friends -- block out chunks of time throughout the week dedicated to exercise. By committing yourself in this way, you’ll feel more accountable to incorporate physical activity into your busy schedule.
Mix things up
After hibernating all winter, the best fitness routine is a well-rounded one. Cross-training is a type of approach that blends together several different types of exercise. The result is a total-body workout that promotes overall good health, as opposed to honing in on one muscle group.
Let’s explore the three main initiatives to keep in mind when cross-training:
Many sports and daily activities require being quick on your feet. That’s why it’s good to incorporate some running and other high-utility movements into your fitness routine. Cross-training allows you to build on these skills by constantly switching up what you’re doing.
Focus on conquering a series of small goals each day. A clinical conditioning expert can help you develop a fitness routine that incorporates losing weight, building muscle mass and being more nimble on your feet. This variation will be much more valuable than your standard ‘leg day’ or ‘back day’ at the gym.
If you’re constantly getting injured, you may be focusing too much on a single activity. Many people think this type of focus will help them excel in a certain physical area. But in fact, it will put a lot of pressure on a few muscles and joints -- without giving these areas enough time to recover.
Cross-training can prevent injury by allowing certain muscles to heal after a strenuous routine. Build in ‘rest days’ for specific areas while you concentrate on others. This rotation will not only lead to less aches, but also help to increase strength throughout the entire body.
Building on those earlier points: An active recovery schedule will allow you to get a good workout -- even though certain muscle groups are taking a break. If you’re training for a rugby league, for example, consider swimming once a week to give your upper legs and hips a rest. The water’s resistance will still give you a good workout while relaxing the muscles that are still recovering.
Incorporate things you already do
Do you enjoy reading a good novel after dinner? Or maybe you like to listen to the radio before heading into work. Make exercise more enjoyable by merging your fitness routine with other activities you like to do. For example, read your favourite book as you sweat it out on the treadmill. Or check in on your favourite podcast during a brisk morning walk to the office. Getting ready for spring sports or activities doesn’t have to involve epic workouts. Make every bit count by looking for opportunities to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine.
Don’t be shy to ask for help
Despite your best intentions, many of us will falter from time to time. Whether you need dietary advice or a little extra motivation -- don’t hesitate to ask an expert for help along the way.
At Physiomed, we want to be your partner in your journey to optimal health. Acupuncture, physiotherapy and chiropractic care can complement any spring training routine. With Physiomed’s interdisciplinary approach -- our clinical conditioning experts can deliver customized plans that’ll get you strong and healthy for the spring season!
For more information on clinical conditioning or to book an assessment, contact us here.