Prep Yourself for Excercise

by Paula Allia PT, DHSc, MTC, OCS

by Paula Allia

The season is in full swing and there are people everywhere doing some type of exercise. There are a few key things to be aware of with exercise. First, many of the Naples streets and sidewalks have a slope to them. Secondly, if you have ever had a lower extremity problem with pain or dysfunction, your joint complex inclusive of muscles and ligaments attached to the bones may not be doing their job sufficiently. Third, consider the level of exercise that will actually make a difference in your body for the goals that you have set. Lastly, always be safe while exercising.

If you have ever walked along Gulf Shore Boulevard you may have noticed that both the roads and the sidewalks have a small gradient to them. This varies but is present throughout the area. The purpose is for proper water drainage.

The higher the slope the more joints in the body, particularly the hips, knees, and ankles can be affected. For example, if you are walking and the slope is higher on the left, the inside of your left knee and the outside of your right knee can be strained. The joints work by rolling, sliding and gliding and uneven surfaces put a strain on various muscles and joint structures.

Ligaments may be more challenged and muscles may have to work harder or at different angles than they are accustomed. Some of the mentality is that angles and walking or running on the beach is more challenging. This is indeed true but if you have arthritis or imbalances one needs to recognize what affects the angles have on your body’s alignment along the route chosen.

Exercising is excellent but if abnormal wear and tear occurs repetitively, over time issues can ensue such as bursitis, tendonitis, arthritis or even a degenerative tear in the cartilage (ie knee).

Another area of concern is lack of awareness of muscles and joints working appropriately for the activities that are chosen to perform. It is not uncommon that people do not identify that their gait or muscle function did not recover back to normal after an injury. For example, many people who receive a total hip replacement never push through their gait pattern to extend the hip behind midline. This makes other muscles and joints compensate. Also, if subject to a joint injury, the joint itself sometimes loses its proprioceptive and kinesthetic sense; In other words, the receptors in your joints that help awareness of where they are and that adapt and get the right muscles to fire are sluggish and or not working appropriately.

These sensors within the joints need to be awakened and there are certain ways to try and stimulate them so that the coordinated collective efforts of all of the joint components can work synchronously and provide a more smooth and appropriate platform for your activity. If movements are normalized then the occurring adaptive changes that the joint has to make will not be detrimental.

If, however, no corrections are made there is concern. People can ignore or not even recognize these faults but over time pain and  dysfunction can occur and one may never even identify that the problem comes from years prior. Correct issues and be preventative instead of waiting for injuries to occur.

We all work at various levels of exercise. Many work with joint dysfunctions that cannot be corrected due to malalignment for one reason or another. The key to safe exercise is to minimize the stresses on the joints and get primed for the activity you are going to perform.

For example, if you are going to be going skiing challenge the ligaments and muscles in you knees that control rotation and side-to-side motion. This will prep and strengthen structures used that you do not challenge as much on a day-to-day basis. Be smart-be prepared-enjoy every bit of the experience with confidence that you have done what you can to help yourself.

As research continues we learn more and more about exercise. No one method is right for everyone. Stay tuned for future articles.

Here’s to your health!

For further information, please call Fitness Together in downtown Naples at 239.263.9348.

Fitness Together
335 14th Ave South
Naples, FL 34102

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