With warmer weather just around the corner, outdoor activities -- from tending to the garden to cleaning up the garage -- are finally possible. And while such undertakings make it possible to enjoy spring sunshine and, literally, smelling the roses ... they can also lead to injury for those not properly prepared.
In fact, the physical therapists at SportsCare Institute -- a leading provider of physical and occupational therapy -- see an upswing in sprains and pains each year, as soon as the weather improves.
“We want people to understand that typical activities associated with spring should be treated just like a workout,” says SportsCare's Nicole Stodolak, DPT. “Stretching before engaging in any strenuous activity -- including scrubbing the back deck or mowing the lawn -- is always a good idea. So are taking frequent breaks and staying hydrated. Many people don’t consider outdoor chores strenuous, but believe me -- your body does.”
During weeding or gardening, it's important to avoid bending over for long periods of time -- kneeling is certainly a better strategy. Knee pads can be used to protect knees and sitting on a bucket or stool also helps keep the back at a more appropriate angle.
One indication of just how significant the problem of yard work injuries is comes via a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission report, which notes that in 2010 alone, more than 41,000 people were injured while gardening and using gardening equipment.
“When carrying heavy objects, avoid twisting at the waist -- instead, turn your feet," Stodolak adds. "And as areas that have accumulated clutter are being cleared out, be cautious where you walk. Falls are a leading cause of injury and often occur on a cluttered or wet surface.”
It's also crucial to understand that activities requiring repetitive motion – like raking or even painting -- can take a physical toll and result in both muscle pain and bruising. Stretching can reduce the likelihood of such injury, as can frequent weight shifts from one side to the other during raking and changing hands regularly when painting.
Proper clothing (examples: closed-toe shoes for mowing the lawn; long-sleeve, high-collar shirts and long pants for clearing brush) is also an important preventive measure.
About SportsCare Institute, Inc.
SportsCare Institute, Inc. manages a network of physical and occupational therapy centers. The company's goal is providing the highest quality of care available, with an emphasis on preventing injury, treating pain, and recovering function. Each of SportsCare's more than 50 facilities offers the latest technology in rehabilitation, and is equipped with state-of-the art modalities, testing and exercise equipment, and more. Additional information is available online, at http://www.sportscare1.com.