Wellness Wednesday: Steps to avoiding spring injuries

SALT LAKE CITY — As spring weather arrives in Utah, doctors and physical therapists at Intermountain Healthcare are seeing a spike in spring injuries and warn everyone to start off slow.

 Experts say injuries go up across the board this time of year, often because people go too hard too fast after a winter with less physical activity. Intermountain Healthcare physical therapist, Enoch Mills suggests easing into physical activity as the weather gets nicer.

Something as simple as warming up and stretching before an activity can help prevent injuries. New research has shown optimal times to stretch and what types of stretches are important to reduce injuries.

  • Dynamic stretching: This includes swinging your legs back and forth and doing range-of-motion stretches such as swinging your arms in circles. These stretches should be brief, not too intense, and are most effective when done before physical activity.
  • Static stretching: This includes stretches involving the hamstrings, arms, and quads, and should be done for 20-30 seconds. These stretches should be done after workouts when you’re already warm. Most people have been taught to do static stretching before serious activity, but research has shown that can reduce power and performance.
  • Identify problem areas. Notice where you may not be as flexible and work on those areas more while you stretch.
  • Warm up before any activity: Warming up isn’t just for athletes. Warming up before mowing the lawn or going for a hike can help reduce risk for injury.

Even simple activities can lead to strains on the body and one of the biggest is back pain.

More than 26 million Americans between the ages of 20-64 experience frequent back pain. Experts say stretching and always lifting with the legs can help avoid injuries. Mills says once a body part is injured, it can be vulnerable to more injuries even after it’s healed.

Back injuries can occur with lifting, bending, and twisting that is performed improperly. Whether you’re organizing the garage, yard work, or spring cleaning closets, practice good lifting techniques – use proper posture – bend your knees and lift with your legs.

If you do have an old injury or pain that keeps occurring consult an orthopedist or physical therapist. They can evaluate someone for flexibility and identify problem areas. A therapist can also assign specific stretches and exercises designed for specific patients to get them back to full strength.

Talking with an expert can also help you assess your fitness levels and set helpful goals. Injuries often happen when someone does more than their body can handle.

“Many people tend to follow the advice from the last time they did serious physical activity – such as a high school or college sports, “ said Intermountain physical therapist Aaron Swalberg. “The routine you learned in the past may not be best for your current fitness level and body type.

For more information on Intermountain Healthcare’s Physical Therapy programs, visit their website:

https://intermountainhealthcare.org/services/physical-therapy/

 

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