With summer comes a multitude of activities, from outdoor sports and gardening to beach vacations and long hikes, but engaging in these activities requires a certain level of physical fitness and stamina. If you want to participate in summer activities with ease and reduce the risk of injuries, it's crucial to prepare your body in advance.
One effective approach is to perform exercises that are similar to the activities you plan to engage in well ahead of time. In doing so, you can gradually strengthen and condition your body, ensuring you're ready to fully enjoy your desired summertime activities.
Real Life Application
Let's take mowing the lawn for example—which involves a range of movements such as walking, leaning forward, pushing, lifting, twisting, turning, and pulling the pull cord. If you have a month or so before the time comes when you want to tackle your yard work, you can implement a strategic plan of exercises that will help prepare your body for these specific movements.
Here are some exercises you might implement in preparation for mowing the lawn:
- Walking Program: Walking is an excellent way to improve cardiovascular endurance, strengthen leg muscles, and enhance overall stamina. Start with shorter distances and gradually increase your walking time and pace as your fitness level improves.
- Pushing a Weighted Sled: Mimicking the pushing motion involved in mowing, pushing a weighted sled at the gym can help strengthen your leg and core muscles. Start with a lighter weight and gradually increase the resistance as you progress. Focus on proper form and engage your core throughout the movement.
- Resisted Core Isometrics: Core strength is crucial for maintaining stability while performing various tasks. Include exercises such as planks, side planks, and Russian twists with resistance bands to target the muscles responsible for maintaining posture and stability during lawn work.
- Shoulder Raises: Lifting and maneuvering a lawn mower can put strain on your shoulder muscles. Perform shoulder raises with dumbbells or resistance bands to strengthen the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint. Include lateral raises, front raises, and shoulder rotations in your routine.
- Bent Over Lat Pulls: The action of pulling the pull cord requires upper body strength. Bent over lat pulls can help strengthen your back muscles, specifically the latissimus dorsi. Use a resistance band or cable machine to perform this exercise and gradually increase the resistance over time.
- Working on Hip and Lumbar Mobility: Mowing involves a fair amount of twisting and turning, which places stress on the hips and lower back. Incorporate exercises that improve hip mobility and lumbar flexibility, such as hip rotations, seated spinal twists, and glute stretches. Consistent practice will enhance your range of motion and reduce the risk of strain or injury.
These exercises are just an example of how you can break down the desired task and prepare your body over a period of weeks. By focusing on the specific movements and muscle groups involved in your desired summer activities, you can gradually build strength and endurance while reducing the risk of injuries.
And don’t hesitate to consult with one of our physical therapists before starting a new exercise program. We can help assess your current fitness level, provide guidance on proper form, and tailor a plan that suits your individual needs and goals.
Check out Part II of the series here.
Check out Part III of the series here.