Fall is here, and the cooler weather is taking hold. It is easier to stay active and in shape during the summer, for there are so many outdoor activities to keep you busy. Hiking, biking, and playing volleyball at the park among other activities are enjoyable things to do in the summer that makes it easy…and fun to stay in shape. 

Now that the winter is coming, it’s not so easy. Going to the gym to exercise does not hold a candle to the outdoor activities in the fun department. Most people simply find it boring. And yet, we need to stay fit somehow, so what is a person to do?

I have a suggestion. Think of exercising during the winter months as a conditioning program for your summer activities. Amateur and elite athletes use the off-season as a time to recover from the injuries accumulated during the playing season, and as a way to make the body faster, stronger, and more capable of performing at a higher level for the next season. Why not use the winter months for the same benefit? 

With that in mind, here are some tips to make your winter rehab and conditioning program work wonders for you:

Focus on improving your general strength. The more strength you have, the more force production capability you have. You will be able to run faster, jump higher, and put more velocity on the ball when you hit it. You get the idea. The more strength you have, the better you can do at your chosen sport. The challenging thing about getting stronger is that you need time for full recovery in between workouts. It is hard to do that when you are very active in the summer, but the winter time is perfect for focusing on that. You simply are not as active, so this is the time to do it. The key is to train your muscles to fatigue, with good form. You only need one good set per body part, so you can train your whole body in under 30 minutes and make great strength gains. Two workouts a week is all you need. Remember, you need at least 48 hours in between hard workouts to fully recover. Some people need even more down time. 

Work on balance and propioception (body awareness in relation to space). This is a neglected piece of an exercise program, but it is very important. Agility and coordination are the benefactors of balance and propioception, so it is of value to do some work there. Use the fit ball for your core exercises, and even some of your lifts like the dumbbell press. Moreover, do some dynamic exercises on one foot, such as a mini squat on one leg while performing a lateral raise. You’d be surprised at how hard it can be to stay balanced when you do it. 

Be aggressive with your rehab protocols. We all get nagging injures from our activities, and yes, they do feel better when we just rest for a long period. However, they do not fully heal unless we take aggressive action. I have a personal example. I played baseball for the first time in 30 years last summer. My performance was pretty good for not playing for many years. My reaction time and running speed was as good as the younger players, but I really jacked up my left shoulder. It happened from swinging the baseball bat (imagine that). I could just let it heal on it’s own, but I would have a problem from here on out with pain free range of motion. Instead, I am doing an aggressive trigger point therapy program to bring my shoulder back to full functional capability. If that does not work, I will look into dry needling or PT. By doing so, I’ll be better prepared for the summer baseball season. 

I highly recommend you have some rehab tools at your disposal. The body back buddy, bio-foam rollers, and trigger point massage tools are must have items. You can then work on your tight fascial tissues anytime.

Look into dry needling, deep tissue massage, rolfing, or muscle activation technique (MAT) for better recovery if your home remedies are not cutting it. 

Maintaining an exercise program during the winter can be a bit of a challenge in it’s own right. Most people struggle with boredom and lack of desire to train. I understand that. However, the winter months are a good time to switch the routine up. It is the perfect time to really build overall strength and stability, and a chance to rehab the body to a degree that cannot be done while playing outdoors. 

Take advantage of the opportunity and if you’re interested in more fitness tips contact Gregg Hoffman, Co-owner of Urban Pump Personal Training Studio and founder of the Hystrength (sm) fitness program. 510 S. Corona Street. Call (303) 587-0149 or visit urbanpump.com.