This is a time of many changes-seasons, leaves turning colors, temperatures dropping, and tendency to spend more time in the warmth of your house. While the change is imminent, it is important that one thing does not change- your physical activity. Overuse injuries are very common this time of year it is important to know how to avoid or reduce the affects.
Overuse injuries result in damage to your bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and other soft tissues from repetitive stress without proper recovery. These occur with a period of rest/inactivity and sudden increase in activity that often starts as a minor ache or pain that does not resolve on its own. These injuries can affect any body part. Common activities to cause overuse injury include:
• Garage cleanup/organization
• Washing cars
• Raking leaves
• Yard waste cleanup
• Shoveling snow
Best ways to reduce/avoid injury:
1) Create a daily stretching routine: your muscles perform better when warmed up. Stretching increases blood flow and elasticity, which helps your muscles perform better.
2) Make sure your work area is well lit: injuries often happen from accidental falls that can be avoided by being more aware of your surroundings.
3) Rest breaks are okay: learn to pace yourself and give yourself necessary rest. Injuries will happen when your muscles are tired. It is also important to rest between days of more intense activities.
4) Be realistic with your abilities: err on the side of safety- use help when appropriate. Rake leaves into smaller piles, cut yard debris into smaller pieces, or shovel smaller amounts of snow at a time.
5) Ice or Heat?: The most common question is “should I use ice or heat or both?” The rule of thumb is if the injury is less than 2-3 weeks old, ice is best to reduce the inflammation. Heat increases blood flow to the area, thus leading to increased inflammation. Heat might be better to loosen tissues to an injury that happened over 3 weeks ago. Even as the injury improves, continue to ice/heat to avoid flare ups.
If an injury occurs, consult with a physical therapist as soon as possible. Most insurances allow ‘Direct Access’ meaning you can see a physical therapist without a prescription. Call the clinic today to help clear up any nagging injury that is slowing you down.