NEWS Adults Preparing for Spring with Physical Therapy With the coming of spring, the urge to get outside and “do something” to alleviate cabin fever will be strong. After a winter of possible inactivity or virtual hibernation, it’s a good idea for the body to get a tune up to prepare it for the stresses of emerging gardening, biking, golf or any activity you enjoy. Even people who regularly participate in winter sports and recreational activities would do well to see a physical therapist before attempting strenuous landscaping or sports related activities. People don’t use the same muscle sets for snowmobiling or skiing that they will utilize to fertilize the begonias, rollerblade or go hiking. Being mentally ready to do something isn’t the same as being physically fit enough to accomplish it. The majority of individuals overestimate their fitness level. Simply going to the gym and working out over the winter won’t prepare a person for spring. To avoid repetitive motion injuries or damage to the neck and spine, the body must first be aligned properly and have the strength to perform when it’s called upon to do so. Back and neck pain, and injuries resulting from repetitive motions required in golf, baseball and even swimming can result in sore, strained or sprained muscles and tendons. Injuries to hamstring muscles, feet, knees, back and shoulders are also common and can require substantial time to heal.

Start Out Slowly
Most people throw themselves into spring activities wholeheartedly without regard for stretching or warming up first. Failure to prepare the body sufficiently before jogging or even cleaning the garage is the best way to incur an injury. The same rules for adults apply equally to youngsters participating in organized sports. A physical therapist will help:

• Improve balance and coordination
• Increase endurance
• Build strength
• Aid in preventing falls and injuries
• Improve flexibility
• Improve performance

Those who visit the gym regularly may be able to lift an impressive amount of weight, but that ability won’t help with a rotator cuff injury. Even muscles that are conditioned need to be slowly acclimated to the increased workloads of spring. Wind resistance, tough terrain and inclement weather can all combine to create a challenging situation that won’t ever be experienced in an indoor gym or other facility.