Don’t Injure Your Summer

Here are a few tips to keep you safely enjoying the activities you love during summer. We see an increase of overuse injuries at this time of year from excited adventurers who jump out on the trails to bike, hike, run, golf, or start digging in the garden. Rain or shine, it is just a treat to be rid of some snow – so I know you are eager to get out there and enjoy our short reprieve! Whatever your activity of choice, staying hydrated, flexible, warmed up and well conditioned is paramount. Here are a few common activities we tend to see overuse injuries from and some helpful tips to keep in mind…

You may think GARDENING couldn’t possibly be “exercise”. However, your body is bending, twisting, reaching and doing motions you likely haven’t done in a year! Shoulder tendonitis, knee issues and lower back strains are common problems seen with the rigors of gardening. Save your back and the environment with these helpful tips:

• Warm up with a light walk around the garden to limber up and reduce the chance of a muscle strain

• Back bends – place your hands on your hips with your feet shoulder width apart and gently bend backwards at the waist. Hold 2-3 seconds, repeat 5x. If standing is uncomfortable, this can be done laying on your stomach and propped up on your elbows. This gentle back extension will warm up your lumbar discs. This is also a good one to do after gardening or yard work to avoid stiffness.

• Chest stretch – place hands at shoulder height on either side of a doorframe, your feet staggered. Gently lean through

the doorframe feeling a comfortable stretch across your chest.

• While digging – lean forward with a straight spine, bend at the hips and knees and avoid twisting your back to throw the dirt. Stand up, move your body and turn the shovel to rid of the dirt.

• While lifting – use a wide stance and bend at the hips and knees, keeping your spine straight. Keep objects close to your body to avoid reaching and straining your shoulders and back.

• Use a bench or table for smaller projects and knee pads or a cushion when kneeling.

When it comes to GOLFING – stretching and warming up will have you hitting stronger with less effort. Key areas to stretch are torso rotation, shoulder circles, hamstrings and a lunge stretch for the calves and hip flexors. Oblique abdominal sit ups and the side plank will give your back more power and stability in the downswing and follow through. Standing on one foot (try closing your eyes) will challenge your balance and joint awareness and benefit your golf swing.

While HIKING out on the trails, protect your knees and avoid slips and falls by using walking poles. Assisting your balance and keeping you standing taller will save your lower back and take stress off your knees. Stay well hydrated and keep a bag of GORP on hand to keep you fueled. Stretching your calves, hamstrings and hip flexors after your hike will help avoid that delayed muscle soreness you typically get on Monday!

If you like to RUN and are having knee issues – focus on your behind! One of the most common causes of knee problems is weak gluteal muscles. These muscles control hip rotation, stabilize the pelvis and have fibrous connections down to the knee (the iliotibial band). Hip and lower back problems can also stem from muscle imbalances between the gluteals and surrounding muscles.

• Stretch your piriformis – in sitting, cross an ankle over the opposite knee, sit with a straight spine and lean forward at the waist. You should feel a stretch in your butt on the same side as your bent leg.

• Side leg lifts – lay on your side with your lower leg bent and your upper leg straight. Keeping your spine and pelvis still (laying along a wall helps with this) raise your upper leg about 12”. Ensure your leg stays straight along your body and avoid lifting it forwards, toes can be pointed slightly downward. Repeat 3 sets of 10 reps.

• Lunges are a good ‘sport specific exercise’ that help lengthen your stride and improve your running pace. Ensure good knee alignment over the mid foot, keep the torso tall and hips level. Try walking lunges forward and backwards to challenge your balance and coordination.

These are just a few tips to get you ready for a great summer. If you are still dealing with any lingering issues from the winter, come on in and we’d love to help you get on track for the summer. The physiotherapists at Bragg Creek Physiotherapy also provide personalized fitness programs to help you meet your goals. Don’t delay, our summer is short and we want you out there enjoying every minute of it! 

Jennifer Gordon (BScPT, AFCI, GIMS, BKin)