Spring weather is finally rolling back into central Texas even if it is only for about two weeks before the summer heat hits. This is when lots of us are looking forward to being active outside. As people are gearing up for the TC5K, working on their golf swings and tennis serves, they may be reminded of some old injuries – or find a few new ones. Here are some tips on preventing injuries and how to do deal with them as you get back into the swing of things.
DO A WARM UP:
Some of the most common things we see in my office this time of year are strains and sprains. This occurs when someone takes a tight cold muscle, tendon, and/or ligament and asks it to perform an explosive task like accelerating the head of a golf club to 85mph. Slow down, Tiger Woods, warm up!
A light 5-10 minute warm up including stretching and light aerobic exercise will get blood pumping to the tissue that’s going to need it most, lubricate the joints, and elongating the muscles and tendons.
If your body has been dormant during the winter, pushing yourself too aggressively too soon can lead to injury. I typically see a lot of tendonitis in the feet, ankles and elbows, along with knee, hip, and shoulder pain in the spring time. These conditions stem from large increases in activity, some of which you may not even realize like gardening and yard work, cleaning out the attic, or moving furniture.
Running is probably the most common culprit. It’s not uncommon for me to hear that a patient who has never finished a 5k has signed up for a marathon and has injured themselves. Less experienced runners should follow the 10% rule. This rule states that you should limit the increase in your distance by 10% a week from your starting point. Your start point is whatever distance you feel like you can run comfortably with no training. If you can comfortably run 3 miles then your first week back to training you can work up to 3.3 miles, then 3.6, and so on.
Even if you follow these tips there is always still the chance of injury. So, what do you do once you have one?
ICE vs HEAT:
In my 8+ years of clinical experience the answer is very clear. In almost all strain, sprain, and overuse injuries that we see, inflammation is the reason for the patient’s pain. For inflammation one of the best home care options is 15-20 min of cold therapy applied at least 2-3 times a day and as often as every 2 hours. Cold therapy is best done with a gel pack kept in the freezer, but an ice water soak can also be very effective. Heat while great at relaxing muscle spasms can also bring too much blood to an injured area making inflammation worse. I have seen herniated disc patients who made the situation substantially worse by sleeping with a heating pad, so when in doubt – ICE it.
Rest is an important factor in allowing your body to heal the way it should. However, rest is different than immobilization. You get a better recovery by utilizing gentle range of motion exercises as soon as you can verses completely immobilizing a joint.
ASK an EXPERT:
We are lucky to live in a beautiful, active, and healthy city. There are fitness groups, trainers, doctors, and coaches for just about anything you are interested in so ask for help if you need it. If it’s your golf swing, tennis serves, or some general aches and pains giving your problems you might consider a visit to the chiropractor or some other sort of sports medicine provider. We can evaluate your posture, movement patterns, and muscle imbalances that may be at the root of those aches and pains that just don’t seem to go away with home care.
Lastly if you are experiencing sharp, intense, or point specific pain and you don’t know what it is we encourage you to seek help immediately and not to just try to treat it at home because it may be something more serious.
For more health notes, contact TexStar Chiropractic in Austin, TX.