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Avoiding Injury While Being Active

June 23, 2015
Authored by Aaron Woodman, Physical Therapist
Day Kimball Healthcare Center, Danielson

Aches and pains are very common for the average person this time of year, as many embark on spring cleaning, yard work, home improvement projects and outdoor activities after being more or less sedentary during the winter. Activities that we do not perform often are more likely to lead to an “overuse injury” - any injury sustained over time through performance of a repetitive activity. It is very common to hurt your back, neck, shoulders, and knees performing repetitive tasks.

It’s important to pay attention to those aches and pains to prevent further injury. If you do start to feel them, here are some helpful hints on how to modify your activity to avoid further injury.

 

Take frequent breaks to rest.
Overuse injuries are sustained over time. By taking breaks to rest, you’ll reduce the amount of time you strain your muscles at a single stretch. Resting can mean sitting if you’re on your feet for a long period of time, or switching to a less strenuous task to allow the muscles to relax. Generally speaking, there is no time table for when a rest break is needed, but sore and tired muscles are usually good indicators that it’s time.

Make the activity easier.
In our busy schedule we often don’t take the time to think about the easiest ways to perform an activity; we just want to get it done. Reaching over our heads to perform tasks repetitively, lifting heavy objects without assistance and staying in uncomfortable positions for a length of time are common ways we perform activities to get them done quickly. But in reality these are also the easiest ways to suffer an injury! Equipment like ladders will bring reaching tasks below shoulder height. Using two or more people to carry heavy objects will allow for easier maneuvering and less strain on your back. And placing items on a surface above your waist will save your hips and knees from bending to the ground over and over again.

Posture, Posture, Posture!
Likely when you were younger your mother told you, “Don’t slouch!” Well, she was right! Posture is a key contributing factor to many overuse injuries of the back, neck, and shoulders. Back injuries occur frequently in people who don’t maintain good posture while undertaking activities like raking, gardening and lifting heavy objects. Keeping your spine upright during repetitive tasks will allow you to engage the muscles in your legs to help with the effort, which will help you to avoid straining muscles in your back and shoulders.

And if you do suffer an injury…
Even with good technique and frequent resting, some will still suffer an injury during physical activity. It’s important that you seek the help of a professional if you suffer one of these overuse injuries to prevent a more serious injury. Physical therapy is a great way to reduce your pain while improving your strength and technique, so you can get back to doing the activities you love. If you think physical therapy may be helpful to you, talk to your primary care physician for a referral.

Related Resources

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Physical Therapy
Occupational Therapy

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Marc B. Cerrone, MD

Marc B. Cerrone, MD

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