By Eric Newman, GSN Staff Writer

You’re a weekend warrior, or at least you think you are.
You’ve been busy. It takes time and energy to duck all those invitations to holiday gatherings to watch football or marathon doses of sappy holiday movies on TV. Your recliner now is form-fitting after the workout you’ve given it.
Now, you believe, with the new year upon us it’s time to get back to giving yourself a good workout.
Good idea, but take it easy and be smart about it, experts recommend.
Muscles can be your best friend or your worst enemy if you don’t properly stretch them and warm them up. Make sure the rest of your vital functions also are up for resuming or initiating fitness endeavors as you try to make good on resolutions for the new year.
After a workout or two, if you’re stiff and sore, be wise before trying to work through pain. Whether caused by injury, arthritis or a variety of issues, working out can cause or exacerbate pain.
Gilbert-area experts are helping clients fight through the discomfort to achieve a more active, healthy lifestyle.
Steve Carling, a physical therapist at Andersen Physical Therapy, which serves Gilbert and Chandler, said that people with ailments like arthritis sometimes fear the oncoming discomfort. That does not mean they should quit.
Exercising improves health, provided it is done with proper form and is not increasing pain or causing further harm.
“You can’t change the arthritis but you can definitely change the function of the joint a little bit, maybe more of the surrounding tissue,” Carling said.
Joe Micela, owner of Performance One Advanced Sports Training in Mesa, emphasizes movement of the joints.
“You have to keep moving the joint, and keep the blood flowing around the joint and surrounding areas. It’s very important,” Micela said. “When we see individuals that have an arthritic condition or something like it their first instinct is to be sedentary and not do anything.
“That’s actually worse. It can condense the blood flow, which weakens the area and then can lead to all other kind of issues.”
Exercise can help relieve some pain however some ailments will not completely go away. Massage, Tai Chi, yoga or assisted stretching can prepare the body, the joints and any painful areas.
“Active people are asking more of their bodies but haven’t necessarily changed the way they take care of themselves,” said Joe Magnacca, CEO of Massage Envy, headquartered in Scottsdale.
Massage Envy’s Total Body Stretch helps clients increase flexibility. This helps the body recover, as well, and prevent further injuries.
Anthony Celio, clinic director of Spooner Physical Therapy in Ahwatukee, added that activity does not have to be regimented.
“A lot of us, with work, unfortunately sit a big portion of the day,” Celio said. “Then, when we ask our body to do things, it’s not prepared properly.
“Even if you can stand up and stretch for five to ten minutes every couple of hours at work, or get up and just take a walk for 15-20 minutes, it can do a whole lot of good.”