It's a seasonal fact that many people decrease their amount of fitness during the chilly winter months. Now that the sun is shining and there are outdoor events galore, athletes are getting active again.

This is the time of the year when people are most likely to overdo an activity. If an individual has not been active during the winter months, to prevent injury they should ease back into their routine, giving them several weeks to get back to their previous level. If they try to do too much too soon, they increase their risk for injury.

For example, with running, the general rule is that you do not want to add more than 10% to your weekly mileage.

If an individual has been somewhat active over the winter, focusing on increasing endurance would be a good place to start. People should also take the time to warm up, cool down, and stretch to prevent injuries.

Warning Signs
If you are experiencing any sort of pain / swelling that does not improve after a couple of days or gets worse, I would recommend going to see your doctor or physical therapist. Waiting or trying to resume the activity too soon can cause further injury and delay the healing process.

Heating Up
It can take the body up to 2 weeks to acclimate to the warmer temperatures. It is also important for athletes to keep the proper amount of fluids to prevent dehydration and wear sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, etc. to protect their skin as needed and help cool them off.

Back in the Swim
Nancy Miller, a Masters swimmer with 34 years of coaching experience at various levels, has the following advice for swimmers: do not focus on yardage initially. Instead, break down strokes into their components and address technique with drills. Stroke problems should be corrected before increasing yardage.

Moderate use of fins is okay, but paddles should be avoided without under the direct supervision of an experienced coach. Sprinting should also be avoided initially in favor of long slow distance.

If an individual is swimming in open water rather than in a pool, it is a good idea to be aware of the currents and water temperature. Utilizing the buddy system is also highly recommended, particularly with open water swimming. Swimmers should also make sure they stay well hydrated.