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Teachable Moment

UMass athletic trainer Jennifer Brodeur offers workout advice to weekend warriors.

Jennifer Brodeur,

Jennifer Brodeur, director of sports medicine and head athletic trainer at UMass Amherst. 

Photo by
John Solem

“Motion is lotion,” says nationally recognized athletic trainer Jennifer Brodeur, one of only a handful of women trainers in the country who oversee football. Brodeur works every day with elite athletes, but is eager to offer advice to weekend warriors. With our crazy-busy lives, she says, “even 15 minutes of stretching is good; yoga is fantastic. You can do it at home, and it certainly helps with chronic illness as well as injury. Plus, you feel better through movement.” 

Mind/body awareness. Know your limits and the kinds of activities you can do with positive results. Make sure your goals are attainable, especially if you are getting into a fitness program. Don’t jump right into running a 5K; think couch to 5K.

Warm up. Stretching and warming up before a workout help with blood flow and flexibility. Don’t forget to stretch again and cool down afterward. Cool (ice) after a workout stops inflammation and lactic acid buildup and helps prevent soreness the next day.

Hydration. If you’re exerting yourself, you should drink half your body weight a day in ounces of water. Sports drinks with electrolytes are good; they help muscles absorb water, but be careful because they are high in sugar. Dilute them with water. Try also pickle juice, mustard, and Pedialyte to help prevent or alleviate cramps.

“Itises” and sprains. Tendonitis, arthritis, and bursitis are all overuse inflammations. Patella tendonitis can come from walking up or down hills. Ankle sprains are the most common sprains. You can help prevent them with strengthening exercises and proper footwear that provides support in the right places.

Good gear. Wear good running shoes or quality hiking boots and wear them only for their intended activity. Be sure to replace them when they get worn.

Switch it up. Mix up your surface if you are a runner; get off the pavement and onto a trail or turf. Change your direction if you run a loop so you aren’t always putting stress on the same side or leg.