It's almost time for dormant weekend athletes to re-emerge from a winter season spent channel-surfing or gaming on a Wii.
Whether the interests are biking or running, softball or soccer, local college sports experts warn that a rush to regain fitness in time for warmer months can be too much, too soon.
"Don't go crazy that first week back" training, said Mac Calloway, director of strength and conditioning for DePaul University's athletics department. "The biggest mistake that people do is that they are so accustomed to doing stuff in the summer that if there's a lag for a month or two, they think they can jump right back in.
"Usually that's going to cause an injury somewhere along the way. Give yourself a couple of weeks to ease back into it. See how your body's going to react and then progress from that."
Calloway, who joined the DePaul staff in 2010, worked previously with Blue Demons men's basketball coach Oliver Purnell at Dayton and Clemson universities. He also specialized in strength and conditioning with the NBA's Orlando Magic and at the annual NBA Combine gathering of draft prospects in Chicago.
Dave Vitel, Loyola University's assistant athletic director for sports performance, said what comes before training sessions also is important.
"Anybody in general should have a good warmup," he said. "We do this thing called a foam roll. It's a long, hard piece of foam, and it's almost a form of self massage.
"We'll roll out our tight muscles and try to get them a little more pliable ... and gain that flexibility and mobility of joints back."
Vitel worked at Loyola from 2001-06 and rejoined the Ramblers staff last year after a five-year run as the NBA Minnesota Timberwolves' strength and conditioning coach.
"Progression is a key," Vitel said. "It's just like eating right. If you're a poor eater and just break that and go all healthy, it's hard to do. Sometimes it's cutting out the sodas, cutting out the sugars. In a month or two or three or four you're eating healthy.
"With exercise, if you've been dormant for three months ... start at a lower level, start at a lower speed and progress your way."
Idle winter athletes can use an indoor health club for training and access to professional staff. Early concentration should be on jogging or light treadmill work to keep the heart rate elevated and work off calories.
But the best approach might be staying active all year round.
"I think it's great to be active all the time," Calloway said. "But it's (also) good to take one or two weeks off now and again just to refresh yourself."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun