Get Prepped For Spring Sports

New York Post—March 11, 2008

Many people spend the winter hibernating, thinking they can just pick up their athletic pursuits where they left off at the end of last summer. Wrong! The month of March might be rainy and unpredictable, but now's the time to think about getting in shape for your spring softball leagues, golf games and pickup soccer games. And if you don't properly prepare yourself for warm weather sports, you're setting yourself up for potential injuries.

"Eighteen holes of golf - or playing a game of softball - doesn't seem like much to former high school and college athletes, but as we age, jumping into these activities without doing any exercise can be a setup for injury," says Joshua Dines, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery.

Dines recommends a three-part strategy to reduce the potential for injury when getting back into sporting activity. Always warm up, get into a consistent exercise program, and last, but certainly not least, listen to your body.

Warming up could be as simple as walking on a treadmill or jumping jacks for five minutes, followed by stretching the major muscle groups.

And tempting though it might be, resist the urge to cram all this activity into a weekend. While the ideal scenario would involve getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day, those planning to do weekend athletics should strive for a minimum of three days of activity during the week, according to Dines.

The good news is that these weekday workouts don't have to be boring; mix it up! Weight training, cardiovascular exercise, stretching, and sport-specific drills all count toward the 30-minute goal. 

The author of this piece, Rock Positano, DPM, M.Sc., MPH, is the director of The Non-surgical Foot and Ankle Service at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. His column appears every Tuesday in the New York Post.

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