With our demanding and often fast paced lives, it becomes an increasingly difficult feat to take the time to listen to our bodies, and to re-evaluate the goals we set for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. With the Fall season in full gear, and Winter soon approaching around the corner, this time of year becomes a great opportunity to check-in with our bodies to reinforce proactive health behaviours, and to see if we are truly doing our bodies right!
Many activities that we engage in to prepare for the changing seasons require repetitive physical movements that unfortunately place our bodies at risk for injury, especially if we do not adopt a proactive approach to our health. Unwanted aches and pains may accompany common seasonal activities, whether these activities include raking leaves, cutting firewood, clearing gardens, or shoveling those first few snowflakes. Such preventable aches and pains are often attributable to muscle imbalances, faulty body mechanics, and poor postures. What can we do to combat these potential concerns? To equip yourself with the tools to avoid the risk of injury, remember these three key principles…
1. Engage in proper body mechanics
2. Utilize optimal body postures
3. Properly prepare your body!
To apply these principles, some useful tips have been created to follow before, during, and after your seasonal activities Let’s take raking leaves as an example…
Before: The key is in prevention…
– Engage in regular exercise to prepare your body à this will help ensure that such activities do not over-exert your body
– Maintain physical fitness with a regimented program that incorporates strength, flexibility, and endurance exercises
– Reduce the risk of repetitive strain with a warm up and stretching routine for the large muscle groups, including your legs, back/neck, and arms before you begin. Warm up for at least 5 minutes, and ensure you hold each stretch for at least 20 seconds
During: You can do it…
– Pace yourself, stay hydrated, take breaks, and make time goals/limits: for example~ work for 20-30 minute intervals
– Hold the rake snug to your body with elbows slightly bent- this will allow you to stand up tall and engage your core to help stabilize your back during the activity
– Maintain good posture by alternating your position and the side you are raking with
– Stagger your feet, keep your knees soft (not locked) and shift forward and backward using your leg musclesà Avoid planting your feet, overreaching and bending/twisting through your back… get those happy feet moving!
If raking the leaves is half the battle… Bagging is the other!!
– Let’s face it, those bags can weigh quite a bit. Test the weight of the bag before lifting it- be sure to only lift loads that are manageable and let those legs do the lifting
– Assume a wide base of support- this will add additional stability, and allow you to stand as close to the bag as possible
– Contract your core muscles, bend at the knees and hips, NOT your back- keep your back in a neutral spine position
-Always remember to engage your core, these are your built-in corset muscles!
After: It’s not time to sit back a relax just yet…
– Just as you prepared your body to begin the exercise, you must prepare your body to complete the exercise
– Your cool down is especially important if the activity has been strenuous and increased your heart rate~ be sure to spend 5 minutes cooling down before resting
– Allowing your muscles to gradually cool and your heart rate to return to resting level will reduce the delayed muscle soreness you may experience, allow your blood to circulate throughout your body, and reduce your risk of injury
Make yourself priority, get connected, and listen to your body…Your health is worth it!
This message is brought to you by Lauren Pontarini, a Registered Physiotherapist at Kinetic Physiotherapy. At Kinetic Physiotherapy, we strive to help people restore, maintain and maximize strength, function, mobility and overall well-being. We use customized care that is tailored to meet your individual lifestyle, and specific goals. We are conveniently located in downtown Burlington. Please feel free to contact us for more information about our therapists, services, unique programs and more! We can be reached by phone at 905-637-1414, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and check us out at http://www.kineticphysiotherapy.ca/