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Spring Sports and Outdoor Safety Tips from Cheyenne, WY Physical Therapy

April 11, 2018

Spring is an exciting time for athletes and those who exercise because of opportunities to work out and play sports outdoors. Running outdoors on a sunny day looking at the beautiful mountains is much more relaxing and enjoyable then indoors on a treadmill. When you are preparing for your spring sports and exercise, it is best to refresh your memory about outdoor workout safety. Learn about the different areas to be cautious about from premier Cheyenne, WY physical therapy.

Importance of Warming Up and Cooling Down

When starting a workout, you may want to jump right in, especially if you are short on time. However, when you take five to 10 minutes to warm up your body before a workout, you prepare your body to push itself. Your blood flow will increase to your muscles therefore, loosening them up. When your muscles are more flexible, you will reduce the risk of stiffness that could lead to an injury. When you warm up, focus on stretching and mild aerobics to get your blood pumping.

Following the workout, it is equally important. When you take five to 10 minutes to cool down, you help slow your heart rate to its normal resting rate. For your cool down, you can do so by walking or swimming if in a pool. Be sure to complete a few stretches as well.

Proper Hydration

Hydration, in general, is important. If you exercise regularly or play sports, you especially need to make sure you are properly hydrating. When you do not drink enough water, you will not be able to perform as well. Your muscles will not be at their best and you may experience cramping and other negative side effects. Why? Water helps the body heal quicker and perform at an optimal level.  

One of the key things to remember is proper hydration needs to happen throughout the day and not immediately before. Make sure to drink at least 64 ounces of water per day, but it will help to drink more, especially if your weight is higher. Prior to your workout, make sure to drink a couple glasses of water, and continue to drink water throughout. Depending on how much you sweat when active, you will need to bump up your hydration to make up for lost water. Following your workout, make sure you are drinking up to eight ounces right away.

Avoid Heat Exhaustion

When the body overheats, one can experience heat exhaustion. It occurs when a person overexerts themselves and has not properly hydrated. The body then hits a point where it is unable to cool itself down. In some cases, outdoor temperature can play a role but is not always the case. If you notice the following symptoms, you may be suffering from heat exhaustion:
  • Dizziness and fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Paleness and clamminess
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Fever

When you are in the middle of an attack, make sure to get to a cool area as soon as possible. Lay down, hydrate, and find ways to cool down as your body is struggling to do it on its own. Make sure you have someone assisting you and close by in case your condition worsens. If you find your symptoms are getting worse, go to a doctor or emergency room immediately. In severe cases, one may have a fever of over 104 degrees, or may even have a seizure.

Exercise Safety

In addition to proper hydration, warming up, and cooling down, there are additional ways to ensure you are safe when exercising. First, understand the difference between pushing through and actual pain. If you are working out and something is painful or does not feel right, stop. It could be an injury that you can worsen at a rapid rate. One of the top ways to perform at your best is to go to your local physical therapist. They can help you with proper form.

Next, when increasing intensity, do not jump right into things. Build up so your body properly adjusts. When the body is stiff, this is when it is more likely for muscles to be pulled, or areas can become inflamed.

Last, having the proper gear and clothing is key. Make sure you are dressing properly for the outdoor elements to keep your temperature from being too hot or too cold. If you have special shoes, gloves, and other equipment, make sure it is tailored to you. When you have ill-fitted clothes or shoes, you increase your risk of injury.

When participating in sports or working out in the outdoors, make sure you always have a form of ID with you. Keep valuables at home and be vigilant. Makes sure you are aware of everything around you to prevent from someone taking advantage of you in the moment of surprise. If you are running or biking on a street, make sure you are going against traffic. This will ensure vehicles will see you.

Tips for Athletes

In addition to properly exercising, there are additional things athletes can do for a successful workout. These include:
  • Provide at least one day for rest
  • Work out regularly so your body adjusts and is not more susceptible to injury
  • Properly fuel yourself before a workout by eating a snack that will fuel your workout and give you the energy to push through
  • Know what your caloric intake should be, which is different for everyone. It is determined by your height, weight, and goals. Get started and calculate your body mass index.
  • Make sure you eat enough protein which will help you recover more quickly after a workout
  • In addition to proper hydration, you can drink other types of beverages that will restore electrolytes
  • Find exercises and sports that you love, this will keep you motivated to keep up your workout routines

As an athlete or person who enjoys (or doesn’t enjoy) working out, one of the best things you can do to improve the quality of workouts is to see a physical therapist. North Platte Physical Therapy is your go-to physical therapist. Our team will assist with proper form, tips, and all other things you need to be successful. Contact us today to see how we can help you work out safely.