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Enjoying The Outdoors Injury-Free with Dr. Christopher Stark

Originally published in the Williamson Herald

Christopher Stark

Spring in Middle Tennessee offers beautiful landscapes and enjoyable temperatures, making moving your workout outdoors an easy decision. That’s something Christopher Stark, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon at Bone and Joint Institute of Tennessee, understands well. 

When he’s not seeing patients, you’ll often find Stark enjoying a local greenway or hiking trail. An avid runner and ultra-marathoner, Stark also enjoys triathlons, mountain biking and adventure racing. 

Whether your outdoor workouts are high intensity or low key, Stark offered a few tips to help you avoid injury while enjoying Williamson County at its finest.

Tip 1: Start Slow

In the spring, it can be tempting to hit the ground running — literally — after spending more time indoors during the winter. 

“The biggest mistake I see is going from zero to 60 too fast,” Stark cautioned. 

People tend to be less active during the winter, making the shift to high-intensity outdoor activities even more difficult on the body. 

“Be sure to give yourself and your body a chance to recover,” Stark said.

Tip 2: Mix It Up

“If you just do one activity, such as walking or running, you often start to develop muscle imbalances, and that’s when you start to have injuries,” Stark said. “It’s really important to cross-train.” 

That means switching up activities, so you don’t do the same thing every day. If you walk one day, consider bicycling, swimming, calisthenics or weight training. He said stretching can be very beneficial and is a fan of dynamic stretching prior to exercise and static stretching after.

Tip 3: Listen to Your Body

After the first few runs, walks or hikes of the season, you may experience some knee discomfort or anterior knee pain, Stark said. While many of these aches and pains are “preventable with weight training and stretching,” Stark advised athletes of all levels to listen to their bodies. 

“There is always going to be some initial soreness,” Stark said. “If you mix it up — I usually recommend cross-training, particularly low impact exercises and weights — and give the body a little rest, you should feel better.” 

If the pain continues, don’t push through. 

“Mix up the activity, then go back to it cautiously and you should be OK, but if you’re not, you need to seek the help of a professional,” Stark said.

Tip 4: Don’t Give Up!

“Too many people start running, walking or biking, then experience some pain and give up,” Stark said. “Almost all those people, if they modified their training, would be able to continue.” 

For runners and walkers, Stark suggested changing the surface, using a track or trail instead of the road. 

“In hiking, using trekking poles takes a little practice, but they take pressure off the knees,” he said. “It’s a nice way for hikers to recover while continuing the activity they love.”

Whatever outdoor activity you’re enjoying this spring, Bone and Joint Institute wants to help you keep moving. Situated just off Interstate 65 in Franklin, Bone and Joint Institute offers state-of-the-art technology and a superior patient experience close to home. For more information, visit www.BoneandJointTN.org.