April brings the warming sun and exuberant new growth in nature. It is, for many of us, a time to be outside and moving! With this surge of enthusiasm for activity, it is very important to be honest with ourselves regarding the pattern of our physical activity over the winter. We need to remind ourselves of how to best re-engage the activity that we have not done for months. Any abrupt increase in manual work, especially in the garden or any increase in activity beyond recent baseline, is a common cause for injuries like strains or even ruptured tendons or discs.
Research shows that, for most of us, our peak physical status occurs around the age of 35. Our muscles, bones, ligaments, and connective tissue (and brain capacity) are continually modifying and changing over time, with less elasticity and tolerance as we age. And, daily, less strength and power when we don’t use our muscles. Our activities have a training effect that is very specific to that activity. Our habits play a big role in our muscle balance and mobility.
And so, for now, remember to be smart about how you get going again. Pay attention to the how of your movement as well as your pacing. Remember that your posture is your relationship to gravity and, even if we forget it, gravity is a big deal.
- Stay hydrated. Consider electrolyte supplementation if you are sweating a lot.
- Remember to pace yourself and take posture breaks at least every 20-30 minutes. Ask your body: is it time to stop?
- Body mechanics: Any abrupt release of tension or increase in loading we experience as we lift or pull can trigger injury. This is more likely if you are twisting as you move.
- To reach anything on the ground, move your spine as a neutral lever by squatting while lowering your chest to the ground with a straight back. It will feel like you are sticking your buttocks out (as if you were about to sit down). Use your legs to do the pivot, twisting, and/or turning needed as you do your tasks.
- Brace the non-reaching arm on your thigh while in your stooped position, in order to keep shoulders and pelvis square and stable while reaching.
- If you are weeding, loosen the soil with a hoe or trowel before pulling the weeds. It is the sudden release of a weed yielding to pull that puts your spine at greatest risk.
- STRETCH what is tight. BREATHE.
- Consider a 20-minute Epsom-salt tub or towel-wrap soak after you clean up.
If you feel the need for a “tune-up” before you get going, or if you (or someone you know) forget to take the precautions you need and injure yourself, please call for an appointment. I am here to help!!
Wishing you delight as you get moving!