As we start to venture out from hibernation and the remaining snow starts to rot off the remainder of our yards we are struck with the sudden urge to start working outside.
We all need to fill up the garden with new dirt, work in the compost, spread new mulch and prune some trees, but most of us forget that it has been months since our bodies have done this. You may have been active over the winter skiing or snow shoeing regularly but realize these are completely different actions and muscles. If you are like a lot of us, we tend not to embrace winter as much and rather wait out the dark months with a good book in the hot tub. Regardless of how you approach the winter months, we all need to be conscious about diving into yard work too quickly or vigorously. It is so simple on a warm sunny day to venture outside with the idea that you are just going to spend a few minutes doing something and instead wind up working for a few hours. As a physiotherapist, patients often want to talk about the busiest time of year for injuries. Most say to me that with falls, skiing and shoveling driveway, winter must be so busy at the clinic. While this is partly true I often end up telling them that an equally busy time is when people start to get outside in their yards after doing very little for the preceding number of months. People can lessen the chance of injuring themselves by doing just a few simple things before turning the soil.
A short walk. Before starting work go for a short walk around the block to warm up muscles and get some blood moving.
General range of motion of back and shoulders. The two areas that tend to get injured the most with yard work is the low back and shoulders. So simple bending over, backwards and rotation of the low back can help. Reaching up to the sky and clasping hands behind the back can help to loosen the shoulders before activity.
Vary activities. Do not spend hours on end doing one particular task. Rather, work on something for a while and then go onto something different to give those muscles and joints a rest.
Plan ahead. Before you start make a deal with yourself on what you are going to tackle that day and stick to the plan. It is so easy to get wrapped up in a beautiful day and the next thing you realize it has been hours.
So get out there and get going, but do it with some thought. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your body and what you want it to do give the team at Damini Physiotherapy and Sports Injury a call. We can help identify possible weakness that could set you up for injury. All the best this spring.