Mother Nature vs. Human Nature
This article originally appeared in a health information newsletter
published by Clinton Hospital for members of the Greater Clinton community.
As New Englanders, some may say we are privileged to experience the wonders
of Mother Nature and her four seasons. However, while Mother Nature can
certainly dish out her fair share of challenges, it is human nature that takes
the blame for the physical tolls we place on our bodies as the seasons change.
As we get ready to trade in our snow shovels for gardening spades and
baseball bats, winter-related injuries are about to take a back seat to
springtime activities and the inevitable mishaps. Jen Baer, PT, manager of the
Physical Rehabilitation Department at Clinton Hospital, advised, "It's best to
start off slowly when getting back into any sport and build from there. Conserve
your energy, know your limits and take breaks as necessary. You don't want to do
too much all at once."
Ms. Baer identified running, youth sports, golfing and even gardening as the
top outdoor activities that most commonly result in injuries. She shared that
many injuries can be prevented by following some simple guidelines.
Before participating in any sport, assessments of the feet and body are
recommended. "Everyone knows to wear sneakers when playing a sport, but proper
footwear goes beyond sneakers," explained Ms. Baer. "Those with alignment or
arch issues can do permanent damage to their feet and ultimately their knees and
hips if they do not wear the right type of shoes for their feet."
Likewise, children interested in starting a new sport should have a physical
assessment done by a physical therapist beforehand to predict which sport or
position is best suited for their body type and what injuries they may be most
prone to receiving.
Next, be sure to take care when lifting, bending and walking. Whether lifting
golf bags or planting petunias, bend with your knees and lift with your legs. If
your knees are troubling you in the garden, use a small bench to sit on rather
than kneeling while weeding. On the golf course, lighten your load with a golf
bag that has a two-sided shoulder strap. This will distribute the weight more
evenly, minimizing the chances of painful shoulder and back injuries. Also, pay
attention to where you are walking or running. Golf courses sometime have rough
terrain, and for those opting to walk over using a cart, one man's divot is
another man's twisted knee.
And as always, stretch. "Warming up your muscles and stretching before
exercising is still the best way to avoid injuries, such as muscle pulls and
strains. At least 10 to15 minutes of stretching before work or play is
recommended," noted Ms. Baer.
By following these few simple guidelines, you
can make sure that human nature and Mother Nature coexist in harmony.
Clinton Hospital offers physical, speech and occupational therapies in the
Physical Rehabilitation Department. Convenient appointments are available,
including evenings and Saturdays. Appointments with a physician referral may be
made by calling 978-368-3740.