Eager to get into an exercise routine? Go easy, expert cautions

WASHINGTON — Summer is coming, and people are going outside more to exercise or play sports.

But be careful: Rushing into new routines can lead to injuries.

“It’s all about progressing at a very slow and steady pace,” said Dr. Evan Argintar, an orthopedic surgeon with MedStar Orthopaedic Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “A lot of times, people try to increase mileage, or increase duration or frequency of running too quickly.”

Argintar recommended coming up with a concrete plan to increase activity, as well as keeping a journal to help avoid getting overly enthusiastic and risking injury.

“Run a mile once a week, then run a mile twice a week, then run a mile one and a half times twice per week,” Argintar recommends to those starting to run or recovering from injury.

A mistake that is common with both serious athletes and recreational weekend warriors, Argintar said, is not doing adequate stretching.

“Whatever degree of athletic sport they do, they tend to be inflexible, and there are certain inflexibilities that tend to cause problems,” said Argintar, who recommended a good 5—10 minutes of stretching before activity and again when cooling down.

For runners, Argintar particularly recommends stretching calves with this method:

  • Stand 2 or 3 feet away from a wall.
  • With a comfortable distance between your feet, both pointing forward, move one away from the wall so it’s behind the opposite foot.
  • Lean against the wall, bend the leg closest to the wall, keep the opposite leg straight and foot firmly planted.
  • Keep your back straight while holding the position 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Switch feet and repeat.

The most common injury Argintar sees is an ankle sprain. Avoid that by carefully watching your steps: Potholes are easy to stumble into this time of year; it’s also easy to roll your ankle while maneuvering on and off curbs.

And of course, pay close attention to traffic — preferably by not listening to music.

MedStar has other suggestions for avoiding injury on its website.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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