|Dr. Brienne Loy, above, recommends Pilates and yoga to build core strength.
|Dr. Kevin Felix, above, says sports drinks are fine to replace electrolytes, but water should be the primary rehydration method.
|Knee and IT Band injuries are a possible result of improper stretching, says Dr. Matt Ptaszkiewicz.
Warm it up
Move and stretch before hitting the trail, volleyball court and other physical challenges.
"Cold muscles don't absorb shock or impact as well as warm muscles," said Dr. Brienne Loy of Colorado Health Medical Group (formerly Poudre Valley Medical Group) Family Medicine.
Said Dr. Kevin Felix with Loveland Family Practice: "When people go from zero to 60, we see a lot of muscle strains and pulls."
He recommended starting slow and building up the pace gradually. Warming up is especially important in such high-impact sports as volleyball and basketball.
Knee and IT Band injuries are another possible result of improper stretching, said Dr. Matt Ptaszkiewicz of Family Health Care of the Rockies.
The IT band runs from the hip to the knee along the outer thigh. It easily tightens up and, without stretching, tugs at the knee joint, causing pain.
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Be an "all-week" warrior
With busy work-a-day lives, some people only have weekends or days off to do the sports and exercises they love. It's tempting to be weekend warriors and take it to the extreme by playing three rounds of golf or hiking a summit.
That's a recipe for injury and may discourage people from more exercise, doctors say.
"Weekend warriors run a higher risk for joint and muscle injuries," Dr. Loy said.
Dr. Felix's advice is to be an all-week warrior. In short, stick to a routine.
"Weekend warriors tend to do too much and get injured or experience overly sore muscles," Dr. Felix said. "When this happens, they feel discouraged and don't want to be active the next time."
Sitting on the job can cause back pain, something that can be remedied through an exercise routine.
"Without regular exercise, hamstrings shrink up, get tight and pull on back muscles," Dr. Ptaszkiewicz said.
To counteract the problem, Ptaszkiewicz recommended doing exercises to strengthen your lower back and abdomen at least three days a week, along with cardio workouts and stretching.
Dr. Felix suggested weight training that uses all muscle groups and mixing up workout routines.
To establish balanced, sturdy muscles, work out most days and do a variety of activities, not just one sport, he added.
Keep your core strong
Many people may not know exactly where their core area is. To find out, draw a line from the belly button and around to your back; this is where core muscles are located.
"When core muscles are strong they support the spine, pelvis and shoulders and ready them for impact during sports," said Dr. Loy, who recommends Pilates and yoga to build core strength.
Felix emphasized that core strength is especially important for nurses and other employees who do a lot of heavy lifting on the job: "People with good core strength in their lower backs and abdomens are less likely to injure themselves."
Fitting in exercise on the job
New federal recommendations suggest that people should stay active throughout the day versus getting in their exercise all at one time.
"Exercising 10 minutes several times a day has been shown to be beneficial," said Dr. Felix.
Some people wisely fit in 10-minute bouts of exercise during a work day by walking up stairs rather than taking elevators; walking during breaks and lunch periods; parking far away from the office or store; and doing such simple exercises as wall squats, push-ups and knee lifts in the office or break room floor.
When to see a doctor
If a person has twisted an ankle, tweaked the back or has knee pain when walking up or down stairs -- pains that just won't go away -- it's time to see a doctor.
"If it's been a few days and the pain or swelling is getting worse and not better, get it checked out," Dr. Felix said.
Dr. Loy added: "The same is true if you feel numbness, tingling or weakness."
Remember this tip: Numbness and tingling in your arms or legs can be a sign of a neck or lower back injury, among other things.
After the workout
Dr. Ptaszkiewicz believes in recovery protein -- 20 to 30 grams within an hour of exercise -- to help repair muscle that breaks down during a workout.
Dr. Felix says sports drinks are fine to replace electrolytes, but water should be the primary rehydration method.
"Rely on water. If you like sports drinks, avoid the commercial ones that are high in sugar," Dr. Felix said.
And a most important tip from him: Drink water before, during and after a workout.
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