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Injury Prevention While Exercising Outdoors

Injury Prevention While Exercising Outdoors

by MYX Coach: Lauren Sambataro

Exercising outdoors provides a multitude of benefits, including adequate vitamin D exposure, fresh air and oxygen, mood improvement and stress reduction. Changing up your environment is an incredible motivator and excellent opportunity to connect with nature. However, outdoor cardio comes with it’s own risks, and opportunity for injury. Before you run out the door, it is important to anticipate the following considerations: 

  1. Terrain/Surface Type 
  2. Footwear 
  3. Heat/Humidity 
  4. Hydration 
  5. Your own intuition!

Prepare For Your Outdoor Workout

Knee and ankle injuries are the most common when working out outdoors. The best way to aptly prepare for these outdoors conditions are through utilization of a proper warm-up and selecting appropriate footwear. 

Incorporating both a warm-up and cooldown into your workout gives the body an opportunity to increase its core temperature and blood flow, prime the muscles for movement, and reduce the risk of injury and muscle soreness. Simple jumping jacks or running in place to warm up will gently increase the heart rate. In addition, doing a “dry run” of your workout routine (without any equipment) at a very low intensity, will help prime the body for what’s to come. 

Unstable surfaces are excellent for increasing proprioception (our body’s sensory awareness in space), but with this challenge comes great responsibility! Be sure to research what type of surface or terrain you are working with, well before you get started. Unfamiliar terrain can present a host of challenges, and is a common trigger for muscle strains and ligament sprains. 

Considering that activity requires much more support than needed in your home gym, check that your footwear provides proper cushioning, lateral support, and a solid arch structure (if it bends too easily in the arch, it may not have enough). Visit your local running store to be assessed and fitted by a footwear expert. As an alternative, if the terrain is safe and extremely familiar, consider a barefoot workout! Getting your bare feet in the grass (called grounding) is an excellent way to reconnect your body to nature and strengthen the innate muscles of the feet and lower legs for greater stability and power. 

The Three H’s: Heat, Humidity and Hydration

Always remember to hydrate before, during and after exercise. The summer heat can be sneaky when it comes to dehydration. Our muscle tissues and ligaments are quite vulnerable in these conditions and become more susceptible to injury. As the temperature increases outdoors, your body temperature increases, causing the body to sweat more, even if you don’t feel it! Electrolytes, or even just a pinch of sea salt in your water can go a long way. At minimum, plan for 16-20 fluid ounces of water before exercise, and up to 10 fluid ounces every 15 minutes during exercise to adequately nourish and protect your entire system. 

Listen To Your Body

Above all else, use your intuition, listen to your body. If any particular movement just doesn’t feel quite right, trust your gut. Try a mobility flow, or maybe an easy walk. Strengthening your body at home with basic bodyweight exercises will provide a solid foundation before taking it outdoors. If you haven’t been consistently active, start slow, work your way up to longer, more intense periods of exercise. 

If at any time, while exercising outside, you feel nauseous, lightheaded, or dizzy, do not continue. Get to a shaded area as quickly as possible, hydrate, and recover. 

Want to get outdoors but don’t know where to begin? MYX has an incredible outdoor cardio program that will safely increase your endurance and strength while enjoying the summer sun! 

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