Getting outside and getting yourself moving may be more of a goal to you than ever before, thanks to the way the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our lives. That desire to get moving is a good thing!
As of the date of writing this, El Pasoans can exercise outdoors and not have to wear a face mask while doing so. You must still retain at least 6 feet of distance from others, with the exception of those you are currently living with. That’s good advice, as huffing and puffing from exertion can expel breath a good farther distance than breathing at a normal rate.
City park trails are also open, and worth using with consideration for others in mind. We wrote about some great trails for walking and running a while ago, but confirm they are open before trying to head out to any.
If your routines are busted and you’ve been yearning for more personal freedom, getting outside can be a huge boost to your physical and mental health.
However, those benefits can all come crashing down if you experience an injury that forces you to sit out until you recover.
Our offices remain open to see patients in need, and we are following strict protocols including frequent cleaning and social distancing measures to ensure our patients receive help in as safe and low-risk an environment as possible. But if we can help keep you moving while avoiding an injury in the first place, we’d certainly like to!
With Activity, There Can Be Too Much of a Good Thing
The negative health effects of a sedentary lifestyle are well documented, but an improper approach to moving more can also do some harm—especially for feet and ankles.
Our feet deal with impact forces equal to more than our body weight with each step we take. When considering the overall amount of strain they deal with, we must consider both how much weight and the number of steps in a day.
They are designed to handle the job, but doing too much, too soon can increase your risk of injury. In other words, if you go full tilt into a running routine and start racking up more distance than your feet are currently conditioned to handle, you can get hurt. It doesn’t matter what you weigh or even if you’re losing weight!
Once again, being active is great! We highly encourage it. But there is a rhyme and reason to approaching new activity that can reduce your injury risk and keep you moving better in the long run.
As always, while we provide some starting tips here, we recommend consulting with us or your primary care physician before starting any new workout routine.
Use the Right Gear
We understand not wanting to invest in running shoes (or other appropriate shoes for your activity) without knowing whether you actually want to stick with it. Many beginning runners use whatever “sporty enough” shoes they have lying around the house.
This can make sense economically, but is not a good move as far as your foot and ankle health is concerned.
Different activities place different types of stresses on the feet and ankles. Activity-specific shoes are designed to accommodate this by tuning the support and protection they offer to the specific needs of the activity.
Additionally, if you have a gait abnormality such as overpronation (i.e., your foot rolls too far to the inside during your stride), certain shoes are designed to support these factors, too. In some cases, custom orthotic inserts would provide the most ideal support for your feet, and the shoes you use should be able to contain them comfortably.
We know it can be more challenging at this time to find the right, new pair of shoes. We can provide advice and help you find the best fit for your needs.
Warm Up Before Moving
Warming up before you get into a main activity provides your muscles and connective tissues a chance to prepare for the paces you’re about to put them through. Whereas too much cumulative strain can increase your risk for an injury, so can the “sudden shock” of moving intensely while your body is still in a relative state of rest.
A good warm up is not just stretching while standing still (aka static stretching). That’s good, but it should also include at least several minutes of light movement (aka dynamic stretching). This can consist of light jogging, squats, lunges, or “butt-kicks.”
Preferably, make sure your warm-up is more dynamic stretching, and that a cooldown after your activity consists more of static stretching. The latter will better help your body adjust back to a state of rest.
Slow and Steady Keeps You Going
One of the strongest qualities you can show when starting a new activity is patience in yourself.
By starting off at a low level of intensity and gradually working your way up, you can help ensure you’re properly conditioned—which significantly lowers your risks of overuse sports injuries such as stress fractures, sprains, neuromas, and Achilles tendinitis.
Carefully push your limits, increasing your intensity no more than 10% per week—and don’t be afraid to dial it down lower if things don’t feel right. You can measure intensity via time, distance, or weight; any one can work well, depending on your activity.
But at any time, if you start to feel pain, stop your activity immediately. And if that pain persists, keep weight off the injured area and give us a call!
Keep Pushing Forward
We know that times have been trying for most all of us recently, which is why we are dedicated to helping our patients continue doing the things they love.
Our offices remain here for you, and we are taking great measures to keep anyone who sees us in as safe and low-risk an environment as possible.
To schedule an appointment with us, and to discuss any questions or concerns you may have, call either of our El Paso area offices:
- Sierra Tower Building – (915) 533-5151
- George Dieter Drive – (915) 856-3331
Thank you for entrusting your care to us, and stay healthy!