Spring is the season to dust off the golf clubs, pull out the tennis rackets and get ready for all of those outdoor activities you’ve been missing. But spring is also the time of year orthopedists see the most ankle, knee and other injuries. This is because many of us come roaring out of hibernation straight into spring games without proper preparation.
So this year, be sure to take part in a bit of spring training. The focus: your foundation or core.
Firm Your Foundation
Imagine you were going to build a fence. Would you plant the fence posts in loose mud or embed them in cement? You’d want a solid foundation to keep the posts in place. Your legs need a similarly solid foundation to keep them from flailing in unintended directions as you run, jump, swing and play.
“Often people will feel pain in their knees, hips, ankles or feet and assume they have an injury there,” says Lisa Farr, Manager of the UVA Exercise Physiology Research Lab. “This may be the case, but often, these aches and pains are caused by a lack of core strength, limited balance and overly tight ‘sit’ muscles, such as the hip flexors. These can lead to dysfunctional movement patterns during activity, which can result in pain and even compensation injuries. Starting with a strong core and building balance and flexibility will help ensure proper alignment and prevent injury.”
Below is a workout that will help you build core strength so you can be prepared to get out and enjoy the warmer weather without injury:
Do 2 to 3 sets of the following moves 3 times a week to build a solid foundation:
- Bridging with Alternating Kicks
Lie on the ground with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Raise your buttocks up off the ground and squeeze. Lift your right foot off the ground and make sure that your right hip does not dip down. Lower your right foot and repeat the move to the left. Continue alternating for a full set of 10 to 12 to each side.
Lie on your left side with your knees bent in front of you so your ankles, knees and hips are stacked. Prop your head up with your left arm and place your right arm, palm down, on the floor in front of you for balance. Keeping your heels together, lift your right knee as far as possible. Return to start. Repeat for a full set of 10 to 12. Then switch sides.
- Perfect Plank
Lie facedown on the floor with your upper body propped on your forearms and your elbows directly beneath your shoulders. Your torso should be up off the floor so your body is in a straight line, supported only by your forearms and toes. Your back should not arch or droop. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. (If you’ve never done this move, 10 seconds will feel long!)
Before you begin any new fitness routine, it’s important to talk to your doctor. Looking for a primary care provider? Search our database of UVA physicians.