Q: My mother is 73 and all winter she stays indoors and then in the spring she goes out to do her usual exercise. However, she seems to always get hurt early in the spring. Since this winter has been particularly bad weather wise and she has spent so little time outside, what should I tell her to do to prevent an injury this year.
A: That is a great observation about your mom, as this is a very common problem. For older people, or anyone who has been more sedentary over the winter and is planning to start to exercise in the spring, there are a few ways to help decrease the chance of injury, and to treat the common aches and pains when you restart an exercise program.
First, towards the end of the winter (or even better, throughout the winter) she should start an indoor stretching program. She should be stretching each of the major muscle groups. Sitting and alternating extending the legs can stretch the leg muscles. Standing and bending at the hip in each direction will stretch the core muscle groups. She should do this for 15-30 min for the few weeks prior to exercising outside.
Once she starts, she should be sure to have the right equipment such as shock absorbing sneakers, and have warm compresses and an over the counter anti-inflammatory ready for those first few workouts.