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Don't Put Your Back Out as Your Spring into Action

Spring is now in motion and as the temperatures start to rise, we all want to start moving a little more. We tend to want to dive into spring cleaning, take up a new sporting activity, head to the golf range to drive balls and start throwing to get our arms ready for ball season, or starting with vigour on those DIY chores such as decorating, laying patios etc.

This invigorating time also coincides with an increase of visitors to the clinic, especially after the Spring Bank holidays. Typically, this is when we start seeing more people who show up with predictable problems:

  • Our patients with lower back issues are usually those who had an ambitious session of cleaning out the garage or basement or shed

  • Those with knee problems typically jumped back into running to quickly

  • People with wrist or elbow pain are often the golfers who couldn’t wait to get swinging

  • Sufferers of shoulder pain typically have been throwing too hard, too fast and too soon and show up with rotator cuff irritations, or just simply overdoing the DIY jobs round the house.

Our bodies like the entering into Spring need warming up. We say that our pets are creatures of habit, but we too are animals and as have set habits and movements patterns. It is when we step outside that old comfortable pattern and charge into a new set of movement and patterns that problems arise, whether it’s decorating the house when your body doesn’t to that normally, or whether you’ve decided to run a half marathon or take on a cycling or walking challenge, but your body at that point does not have the set of skills needed at that point to prepare for that. That’s not to say you shouldn’t do these things, but certain issues need to be considered.


Unless you’ve been very active all winter, start all your spring activity slowly and deliberately over several days. Let the body adapt to the increase in movement and work. Your muscles and joints will not cooperate if you jump in cold turkey at high intensity and for long periods, regardless of whether it’s a sport of DIY activity. Your joints will get stiffer and so will your muscle—the perfect recipe for an injury and pain.


Follow our tips to avoid hurting your body:


For Spring Cleaning

  • Start with light objects earlier in the day to warm up.

  • Let your body get used to walking, squatting repetitively and lifting.

  • Take frequent breaks and change your positions / activity frequently. Your muscles and joints will loosen up and will be able to take on bigger tasks and loads as the day progresses—without the risk of overuse or sudden injury.

  • Get help for moving heavy furniture.

  • Lift with your legs, not with your back.

  • Clean the floor with a mop, rather than on your hands and knees. If you need to be on your hands and knees, be sure to kneel on a pad and don’t reach too far in any direction.

  • To wash high windows, use a secure ladder or step stool to stay level with the window. This prevents you from stretching your back and neck upwards for long periods of time. This can also be used for painting….. and so on.

Gardening

Warm up with a walk around the garden to get the blood flowing and do a few stretches of your hands, back, and legs to prepare your muscles for activity.

  • Use caution when handling garden equipment. You don’t want to lose a finger or toe!

  • Wear gloves. They can provide protection from a number of injuries such as infection from small organisms in the soil and puncture wounds from buried objects.

  • Rotate tasks every 15 minutes to avoid repetitive stress injuries to your knees, wrists, and back.

  • Don’t overdo it. Take frequent breaks.

For Running

When the weather warms up, the pavement dries out and the birds start singing, it’s as if you’ve been given a natural invitation to start running. But if you start too quickly and go too far, you will set yourself up for shin splints, knee pain, calf and achilles tendonitis. The best way to avoid these injuries is to alternate between walking and running, and to keep your distance low for the first few weeks. Over the following three weeks, you can increase the running time and decrease the walking time and GRADUALLY increase your distance and speed. Remember the 10% rule…. No more than 10% increase at any one time.


For Biking

When you start riding your bike in the spring—whether it’s a road, mountain or upright bike— the first kilometres will result in a sore buttock, and generalized soreness to your neck, shoulders and back. At the beginning of your season, avoid hills, get used to a regular cadence, and only ramp up the distance travelled once your body is well adjusted.


For Golfing

When springtime arrives, there’s a strong pull to get to the golf course to swing some clubs. Having good game when it comes to golf means consistency: same velocity, same angles, same technique, same arc of swing. But this consistency can lead to overuse injuries. So before you jump onto the course, make sure your lower extremities are flexible or else your low back spine will take the torque and stress at the end of your swing. For the first few weeks of play, avoid your full swing.

Make sure you build up your functional range before pushing the depth of your swing. So try exercises ghat encourage rotation through the spine and ensure that your glutes are working.


We leave you with these words of wisdom (and common sense): An ounce of prevention goes a long way to ensure a long and enjoyable lifestyle for the whole summer season. Enjoy!


We can help you perfect your form and avoid injuries! Get in touch to find out more.