Finally, spring has sprung and the cold weather is on its way out. For many people, spring is the time to get up and get outside to actively enjoy the sunshine. While an active lifestyle is encouraged, if you “spring” into activity too fast there could be some serious consequences. As a therapist, there are many common spring injuries that you might see in the coming months. We’re going to focus on three main activities that are likely to land someone an appointment this spring.
3 Sources of Common Spring Injuries
During winter months, it’s normal for people to limit, or even eliminate, their daily walks or runs because of the weather. But once it starts getting warmer, they’re eager to get out and back into the groove and expect to start where they left off. This can really lead to common spring injuries related to the knees, hips, legs, and feet.
Many people also think that their walking or running habits don’t need to be adjusted since they used a treadmill during the winter months and remained active – That’s not the case. Running on the road is more challenging than on a treadmill since the belt continues to move, relieving some stress from leg muscles. The body needs time to adapt to the different stresses such as terrain, wind, and varied need for oxygen.
Some running injuries that physical therapists treat include piriformis syndrome, runner’s knee, shin splints, and others. Reasons for these injuries mainly involve improper footwear, increasing mileage or intensity too quickly, and poor running mechanics. It’s important to remember that even if running shoes look brand new and seem to have limited wear, the cushion could be deteriorating.
Most people think gardening is simply a relaxing hobby, but it can actually place a lot of stress on the body. Some common spring injuries from gardening are back pain, bursitis of the knee, shoulder impingement, inflamed joints, and many others.
Digging, raking, weeding, and any type of repetitive action in gardening can cause some serious back pain. Just like shoveling snow can cause back pain, shoveling mulch or dirt can have the same effects. Gardening can also take a toll on posture. If you’re leaning over to pull weeds or tend to your garden bed, poor posture and back pain are both risk factors. Building a raised bed and pulling weeds while sitting are two ways to prevent back injuries from gardening.
Bursitis of the knee
According to the Mayo Clinic, knee bursitis is an “inflammation of a bursa located near your knee joint.” Since many gardening activities require a person to kneel, gardeners are especially prone to this condition. Sitting while planting or weeding can lower the risk, as well as using a soft foam pad or kneepads. It’s also important to take regular breaks to stand up and walk around to reduce pressure.
Digging and pruning are the most common causes of shoulder injuries in gardening. With digging, the repetitive motion can put a lot of stress on the muscles. It’s also possible that the dirt beneath the surface isn’t quite thawed out yet, and is still hard. Exerting the extra force to break through can be problematic. Pruning, or trimming and clipping can also involve repetitive movement in the shoulder. If the areas that need pruning are hard to reach, there could be strain on the shoulders and other body parts just trying to reach them. Use lightweight and ergonomically correct equipment to limit the likelihood of injury, and be sure to take enough breaks.
3. Spring Sports
Spring sports may be the leading cause for injuries in the season, and there are a ton of them. Tennis, golf, baseball, track, and cross-country are just a few sports that largely contribute to common spring injuries. Any sport that requires running can put athletes at the same risks for those who enjoy running as a hobby. Tennis, golf, and baseball require repetitive movements of the elbows, shoulders, and arm muscles. Rotator cuff injuries are some of the most common in these sports. Coaches may be very persistent in pushing athletes to do the most exercise possible, but it’s important to listen to your body and take preventative measures.
There are many different forms of treatment for common spring injuries such as medication, physical therapy, and icing, but the most effective treatment is prevention. Your brain may be telling you that you’re pumped to get outside and give it all you’ve got, but your body could be telling you otherwise. Take it slow while the body adjusts, and make sure to use suitable equipment. Also, stay hydrated and protect your skin from the sun to avoid other common springtime conditions.