News & Media

Heading Back Outdoors in Spring Can Lead to Injuries

Media Contact Joe Poelker
Release Date: 03/02/2016 By Krysti Eckert
Physical Therapist
A woman works in her garden.

As the warming temperatures of spring arrive, we’ll get back outside for fresh air and physical activity. For some people, this can also mean injuries. Every spring, physical therapists see sprains and strains with patients who exercise regularly, weekend sports warriors, gardeners and others participating in outdoor activities.

The reason: muscle memory is much shorter than actual memory. It’s easy to remember what and how much activity you did before winter. However, if you haven’t done an activity for an extended period of time, then you can’t expect to go back to the same level of activity once spring arrives.

Spring activity can also aggravate chronic conditions. If you have chronic back pain and sit at home all winter, you may feel okay. But when you get out and get active, it can flare up again.

Ideally, we would not hibernate all winter and find ways to stay active during the cold months, but we all know that’s not an easy thing to do. Before you resume your normal level of activity, ease into it or do some general aerobic activity beforehand. Make sure to warm up properly as well. We recommend the rule of 10 percent: increase your workout load by 10 percent each week, which allows for progress but keeps you from overdoing it.