With the coming of spring, the urge to get outside and "do something" to alleviate cabin fever will be strong. After a winter of relative inactivity or virtual hibernation, it's a good idea for the body to get a tune up to prepare it for the stresses of emerging gardening, biking and baseball season.
Even people who regularly participate in winter sports and recreational activities would do well to see a physical therapist before attempting strenuous landscaping or sports-related activities. People don't use the same muscle sets for snowmobiling or skiing that they will utilize to fertilize the begonias, Rollerblade or go hiking. Being mentally ready to do something isn't the same as being physically fit enough to accomplish it.
The majority of individuals overestimate their fitness level. Simply going to the gym and working out over the winter won't prepare a person for spring. To avoid repetitive motion injuries or damage to the neck and spine, the body must first be aligned properly and have the strength to perform when it's called upon to do so.
Back and neck pain, and injuries resulting from repetitive motions required in golf, baseball and even swimming can result in sore, strained or sprained muscles and tendons. Injuries to hamstring muscles, the heel, knees, back and shoulders are also common and can require substantial time to heal.
Start Out Slowly
Most people throw themselves into spring activities wholeheartedly without regard for stretching or warming up first. Failure to prepare the body sufficiently before jogging or even cleaning the garage is the best way to incur an injury. The same rules for adults apply equally to youngsters participating in organized sports.
A physical therapist will help:
- Improve balance and coordination
- Increase endurance
- Build strength
- Aid in preventing falls and injuries
- Improve flexibility
- Improve performance
Those who visit the gym regularly may be able to lift an impressive amount of weight, but that ability won't help with a rotator cuff injury. Even muscles that are conditioned need to be slowly acclimated to the increased workloads of spring. Wind resistance, tough terrain and inclement weather can all combine to create a challenging situation that won't ever be experienced in an indoor gym or other facility.
Spring Into Physical Therapy
Your physical therapist will ensure your neck and spine are correctly aligned that will aid in reducing the risk of injury and relieve any pressure on the neurological system that can impair performance. A program of exercises will be developed that addresses your strengths and any areas of weakness. You'll learn how to stretch and warm up properly before putting specific muscle groups into action.
People tend to eat less healthy fare in the winter. Your physical therapist can help with your nutritional needs and recommend dietary supplements that help meet any deficits to provide you with specific nutrients for your selected activities. If you've had an injury in the past that has lingering effects, braces and other supportive aids are available to reduce the potential for another injury.
The therapies available through your physical therapist are effective for improving performance and building strength, balance and coordination to reduce the risk of falls. Your therapist can provide suggestions for protective gear and proper footwear that offers the traction and support needed for specific activities. Orthotics can be prescribed to address any imbalances for comfort and to relieve pain.
Lifting, bend, twisting and turning can easily strain the muscles and tendons. The quick stops and starts of basketball and the pounding the body takes while jogging can be mitigated with physical therapy. Your physical therapist can show you new ways to move to perform tasks that will be easier on your body and reduce the risk of an injury.
Before spring actually arrives is the time to get your body tuned up and ready for the upcoming season. Spring is a time of invigorating possibilities and your body will be rejuvenated and ready for whatever the season brings after a visit to your physical therapist.