Keep outdoor experiences fun, safe and positive by keeping a few key reminders in mind — like stretching beforehand.
June is National Outdoor Month! Since we are emerging from one of the most severe winters in memory, most of us don’t need a national designation to “Go outside and play.”
Our outdoor playground in the Gorge is vast and the options are endless. A few key reminders can ensure that your outdoor experiences are fun, safe and positive.
- Start slow. Warm-ups and stretching are critical. Any exercise should start off with a less intense activity such as stretching, slow walking or light jogging. This is especially critical for children who do not perceive exercise as intently as adults.
- Moderation. Overuse injuries are very common. Strains occur when tendons or muscles are stretched and can take months to heal. The best way to avoid strains is to slowly and gradually increase activity. Also, avoid repeating the same motion over and over without breaks.
- “Motion is lotion.” Our joints are bathed in a fluid which acts as a natural lubricant. When we are not active, the thickness of the fluid increases. This causes stiffness. If you were inactive this past winter, simply walking 10 minutes twice a day is a great health habit. Small amounts of activity daily are more effective than a habit of being a “weekend warrior” where all your physical activity occurs in one to two days a week.
- Proper equipment. Regardless of the sport you choose, using the proper equipment is most important to prevent injuries. Wearing a helmet for sports where you are moving faster than you can run is essential. Also use pads to protect arms and legs in high impact contact sports. Guidance by athletic trainers, physical therapists, or experienced coaches can help avoid injuries, whether it is perfecting a tennis stroke, a baseball pitch or a proper fit on a bike. Even running injuries can be assessed by addressing the tried and true “Six S’s”:
• Shoes: Are they getting too worn out or is the tread uneven?
• Surface: Is it hard pavement or uneven ground?
• Speed: Is it too much or too soon?
• Stretching: Be sure to stretch before and after.
• Strength: If you have an imbalance between muscle tightness and weakness, this may cause joint pain.
• Structure: Make sure you have good alignment by having your ear, shoulder, chest, hips and ankles in vertical alignment from a side view.
Any of these factors can become problems that lead to simple, yet debilitating running injuries
No matter the activity, it is much easier to prevent an injury than it is to deal with a long and challenging recovery from overuse or damage. Regardless, spending some part of your day outdoors is a key to health and wellness!
Healthy Active Hood River County (HAHRC) is a coalition that promotes wellness through increased physical activity, healthy eating, tobacco use prevention, behavioral health, prevention of addictions and policy and environmental change. The next meeting will be July 25 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Providence Hood River Hospital Conference Room 5.