Winter Exercise: Get Moving Now …. Don’t Suffer This Spring!

At The Melbourne Sports Medicine Centre we are often asked when is our busiest time of the year?

The answer is undoubtedly September / October. A common scenario is that after a long winter’s hibernation, clients see the sun shining and the days getting longer in early spring and throwing caution to the wind they get out and get active. Often, activity wise, it’s too much too soon and then some type of musculoskeletal injury occurs.

Maybe it’s that Fun Run or half marathon that’s been entered into, but then the preparation is rushed because there was no fitness base extended from winter. Perhaps it’s that summer team sport season that has crept up quickly and without adequate preparation or training and suddenly in the heat of battle an overloading injury occurs. It could even be that stiff lower back that couldn’t handle the bouts of gardening that spring invites us to do.

Unfortunately for too many of us the long winter months encourage us to bunker down and become physically less active. Maybe it’s the cold, maybe it’s the lack of daylight or just the general lack of motivation associated with the season. Unfortunately at the same time our eating habits can change and those summer salads can be replaced by warming and comforting heavier and sugary foods. All this can lead to what’s known as seasonal weight gain. Then there’s another trap being set. Leading us to think that gained weight has to be lost in a hurry when the warmer weather arrives. Again those sudden boosts in activity levels can be an injury risk particularly if we’ve been sedentary throughout winter and don’t have a recent exercise base.

Perhaps we need to ask why so many of us reduce our exercise and activity levels in winter. In reality Melbourne does have a temperate climate so generally it is still possible to get out and about on most days and exercise without suffering any serious adverse consequences. More likely it’s the break to routines and lack of energy and motivation that leads to the inactivity. Of course much of this is counter intuitive given that exercise actually reduces fatigue and boosts energy. Research has shown a powerful effect on energy and fatigue levels relatively quickly for previously sedentary individuals when they commence a low/ moderate level exercise program.

Getting outdoors to exercise and grabbing some winter sun when you can, perhaps on the weekend, can help counteract that lack of exposure during the week. You can break up your weekday sitting with lunchtime or commuter walking and taking the stairs where possible. If indoor is more your thing, winter is a good time to use the treadmill or cross trainer which can help create a base for those spring runs just as indoor cycling or spin classes can act as a spring board for that cycling you have planned in the better weather. Often winter is a good time to work on your flexibility, posture and movement patterns through yoga, pilates or Body Balance.

If you have a recurring pattern of injury or ongoing symptoms from a musculoskeletal condition it’s well worthwhile to address the reversible aspects of these problems before you suddenly increase your activity levels in spring. Often some remedial treatment and exercise along with a modified activity program is the key to injury prevention. Depending on your issue, guidance can be sought from our Sports Doctors, Physiotherapists or Exercise Physiologists.  You can arrange an appointment by phoning 9650 9372 or by booking online.

So if you’ve had an idle winter now is a good time to prepare your body, before you go from the Sofa to Surf, the Couch to Cricket or even from the Recliner to Running so you don’t Suffer This Spring!!