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Staying Fit: Rich Weil, MEd, CDE

Make the most of your fitness activities

continued...

Weil: Great question. If you follow all these tips you will probably have a better experience this spring:

  • Start to do aerobic exercise to build endurance.
  • Begin some resistance exercise to help with performance, like swinging the bat or throwing the ball. The more strength the better, plus more strength may prevent injuries, particularly shoulder injuries caused by throwing.
  • Do some type of flexibility program, preferably combined with the aerobic activities. That may be a stretching routine right after an aerobic activity or something like a stretch class or even yoga. One of the more common injuries, particularly in activities such as softball, are pulled hamstring or quadriceps muscles, because people don't stretch, and the nature of the sport of softball is a lot of stop and quick start movements. So stretching in the gym will help limber the muscles.
  • Finally, prior to game time treat the game as a workout and warm up properly. That means maybe a 1/2-mile to 1-mile jog, followed by 10 to 15 minutes of stretching, particularly in the legs, and the stretching routine should be as close to game time as possible. One other method is to do an aerobic warm-up such as jogging, and then a few, maybe two to three, faster sprints -- not all-out sprints, but faster sprinting to get the legs prepared for the game.

Member question: What is the best workout for a painful arthritic knee? It seems the more I work it the more stiffness there is in it. I like walking, but it stiffens up a lot after walking. It also has had many operations on it: cartilage, ACL repair, and debridement. Can you suggest anything for me?

Weil: My best suggestion is water classes, water aerobics, or swimming. You can check the arthritis foundation web site for water classes that they sponsor all over the country. There may be one in your area. Otherwise, check your local recreation center or Y to find out if they have water classes. If water classes are not available, then a gentle stretch class and tone class at your gym will help. 

You also need to use pain as your guide. If, after a proper warm-up your muscles feel more limber and warm, it will be OK to continue. If the muscles feel stiff and tight, it means you need to spend more time on the warm-up and on stretching.

And finally, a safe routine of weight lifting to strengthen the legs, particularly the muscles around the knees, can be very helpful and alleviate some of the symptoms of arthritis. A fitness trainer at your gym or a physical therapist who you could be referred to by your physician could help design and develop these exercises for you; that would be quite helpful. The Arthritis Foundation may also have information on strengthening the muscles around the joints.

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