It’s that time of the year; the sun is shining, the weather is warming up, and those long, dark Penticton winter days are melting away into something better. It’s a busy time in our clinic, because we have a lot of patients come in and work with us who have recently injured themselves, whether it be running to base for the first time, going for their first hike of the season, or tidying up the garden after a long winter.
Read on to learn more about why we always see an uptick in people injuring themselves in spring, and how you can prevent yourself from becoming injured.
Don’t do too much too soon
It may sound obvious, but the most common reason people injure themselves in spring is because they did too much, too soon. And it makes sense; after a long, cold winter, we can finally get outside and enjoy our warm-season activities. However, the issue is that over the winter season, the chances are that you haven’t been doing your regular activities as much, and you are likely going to be deconditioned to that task.
Here’s the great thing about the human body – it has a great capacity to adapt to different activities, but it takes time for those adaptations to take effect. If you spend your winters not running, and then go out and play ball and run around like Usain Bolt in your first game, there is a chance you might pull your hamstring muscle, because your body isn’t yet adapted to running or sprinting yet. If you are aware of this and complete the appropriate stretching and warming up activities before your first game, you likely will lessen the chances of injury (and this principle can be applied to really any activity you might pick up again in the spring).
This leads us to our next point…
Spend time getting stronger and reconditioning
Very often in our clinic when we are assessing injured people, regardless of age or activity, it is very common to find that their muscles are weak and tight (to varying degrees) in the area of their injury. This is often exacerbated by winter conditions, when you may find yourself spending more time indoors, sitting down and being more inactive then you otherwise might be.
When your muscles are tight and weak (or tighter and weaker than they might otherwise be), it is harder for them to perform their job efficiently. So, if your muscles in your lower back have become tight and a bit weak, they likely will find it harder to perform tasks they haven’t done for a while (think raking up leaves in your yard, or going for your first run in spring). So its really important you know the correct exercises to do to help target the specific areas that have become weak and tight (and this is where our physiotherapists and kinesiologist can help!).
Wear the right footwear
Our final tip is to advise you to wear correct footwear for the task you are doing. Make sure that your old runners aren’t too worn out and not supporting your feet, and that your hiking boots have sufficient grip on the underside so you’re not slipping and sliding down the mountainside. Also, make sure that if you do start wearing flip-flops or crocs, you’re not wearing them during tasks that would be better suited to more supportive footwear; we have seen many a rolled ankle and crushed foot from wearing the wrong footwear for the task!
So there you have it, 3 simple ideas to help you enjoy your spring activities and prevent yourself from becoming injured. If you are keen to get outdoors and want to give yourself the best chance of staying injury free, make sure you book an appointment with one of our physiotherapists or kinesiologists, who can help diagnose any potential weaknesses you may have, and help get you into optimal health to enjoy the warmer weather. Please call 250-493-1152 to speak with one of our team members, or book online directly at www.pentictonphysiotherapy.com!