Spring is finally here and those running into the warmth before warming up might find themselves out for the season.
Dr. Jim Tholany, director of rehabilitation at Performance Spine and Sports Medicine, said the warmer weather leads to a resurgence of activity and recreational activities that lead people into physical therapy clinics across the northeast.
“The most common spring activities I see injuries in involve running. In most cases, most people’s attempt at fitness makes them wind up injured,” said Tholany. “One of my mentor’s has a saying, ‘you don’t run to get fit, you have to be fit to run.’”
Tholany said that’s because patients try to run their way out of a poor diet. But, when you factor in a high BMI and what that means for ground recreation forces with gravity, mass and momentum it can be a disaster. He said running while significantly overweight can lead to degeneration of joints, bones and muscle.
In order to get warmed up for the spring season Tholany recommends first starting with a nutritional consultation, as well as testing with a medical professional prior to starting a fitness routine, especially for those who are struggling with weight loss.
Once diet is addressed they can move on to low impact aerobic activities, such as swimming, cycling and anti-gravity treadmills.
“It is important when trying to run to not conquer the world the first couple times out there, and return with gradual progression,” said Tholany. “This generally means scaling back with what you intend to do especially if you are de-conditioned and have hibernated the majority of the winter.”
Before putting a foot to the pavement Tholany said there are some basic home screenings that potential runners should try. One is to test movement and stability by standing in a doorway with a piece of tape across the width of the doorway just below the kneecap. Then stand tall behind the tape and simply stand on one leg, lifting the other leg over the tape, tapping the heel to the other side then steadily return. He recommends doing this a few times with each leg. He said if the task is too difficult he does not recommend running, as it is the same movement only with more impact.
Instead he recommends seeing a qualified therapist or trainer to prescribe a program to improve movement.
Once given the all clear to run Tholany recommends that complete novices begin with a half mile two to three times per week with additions of a quarter mile week to week. For more active individuals they can start with a mile adding up to a half mile week to week.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Get medically cleared, get screened, and get moving,” said Tholany.