There’s something about spring that makes people want to get outside and move. Taking your workout outside may make it feel more enjoyable—even easier—than exercising indoors, according to some studies. If you aren’t careful though, your urge to get-out-and-go can result in an injury. So before the weather gets even nicer, take a minute to review these precautions.
Instead of: Putting on the same old pair of shoes.
To keep a little spring in your step, make sure you’ve got on proper footwear. “Old or worn out shoes can cause problems because they don’t contain an appropriate level of cushioning or support,” says Marcy Goolsby, M.D., a primary care sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery’s Women's Sports Medicine Center in New York City. Head to a shoe store that specializes in walking or running shoes to make sure you’re purchasing a pair that suits your stride, and shop at the end of the day when your feet are a little swollen to get the best fit. Wearing a pedometer or an activity tracker to count your steps can give you an extra incentive to stick with a walking or running routine.
Instead of: Holding a stretch for your shoulders or legs
Try this: Do a dynamic warm up. Follow the same movement pattern as you would when the ball is in play by doing moves like arm circles, trunk rotations, and walking lunges. “You’ll efficiently warm up every joint and muscle that you will use for the sport, getting the blood flowing so you’re not as stiff or tight when you start to play,” says Vonda Wright, M.D., an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
Instead of: Jumping on your bike.
Try this: Get a proper fit. Positioning can make a huge difference to your comfort on a bicycle. The seat height should be up enough that your knees are bent no more than 30 degrees at the lowest part of the circle. Handlebars and seat position should also be set so you’re not leaning forward too much. “The best thing you can do is to spend a few minutes at a bike store having them fit you properly to your bike,” says Wright. And don't forget your helmet!