April 2017 – Rehab and Wellness Connection

Earth Day Anniversary and Gardening

April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day was recognized. Clear Lake's native son and then-Senator Gaylord Nelson is credited as the architect and Founder of America's modern environmental movement. Senator Nelson persuaded President Kennedy to give visibility to the issue of the environment in the political arena and environmental concerns are as relevant today as they were 47 years ago. Many of you will probably participate in Earth Day activities and/or begin your own gardening activities. Is your body ready?

If you're like most of us who have spent the winter hibernating on our couches, you may be at risk for injury as you head outside and engage in physical activity. If you engage in physical activity without preparation for all the bending, twisting, reaching and pulling that comes with yardwork and gardening, you may potentially find yourself dealing with muscle pains or back, shoulder and/or knee strains and pains.

There are some quick tips to avoid some common aches and pains you might encounter while beginning your spring gardening and yard work activities:

  • Develop a plan that gradually eases you into the work - and stick with it!
  • Start slow and progress the level of activity by an hour or two at a time;
  • Work smarter, not harder and use tools to reduce risk and strain on the body;
  • Warm up by walking or stretching before engaging in activity that will focus on your back, shoulders and leg muscles.

If you over do it and you have inflammation, an area appears red, warm, swollen and/or is painful, ice can be used as part of the initial treatment for sprains and strains. Apply ice for no more than 15 minutes to anything that is sore when you're done. Ice should never be applied to bare skin - always use a protective covering such as a towel between the ice and the skin. Take it easy and rest until the pain goes away. Any persistent pain lasting more than 48 hours should be addressed by a physical therapist or other medical professional.

To get the most out of your time in the garden while minimizing your risk for injury, try the following: change positions often, take breaks to allow your joints to rest (even if you feel great!), drink water, walk and stretch to reduce stress on your joints, use ergonomic tools - padded handle tools, non-slip gloves and kneeling pads reduce the force on your wrists, knees and elbows and lastly...finish right - stand, walk and stretch again before hitting the shower.

Lastly, stop and respect pain at the first sign of it. Don't ignore your body's cries for help. Seek attention if pain is severe or interfering with normal daily activities or doesn't go away in 48 hours. It's easier and more effective to treat new and recent injuries rather than those lingering for a few months.

Physical Therapists have many techniques to help teach you ways to modify activities with the goal of allowing you to continue enjoying your activities all summer while reducing your risk of injury and pain- stop in at Clear Lake Physical Therapy and Rehab Specialists at 417 3rd Street in Clear Lake or give us a call at 715.263.4103. Our knowledgeable and friendly staff is ready to answer any questions you may have to help you enjoy all the spring/summer activities!