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Joe Poelker
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Release Date: 4/9/2014

Heading back outdoors in spring can lead to injuries

Our long, cold winter is finally over and the warming temperatures of spring are finally arriving, allowing us to get back outside for fresh air and physical activity. But for some people, the return to the outdoors will lead to injuries.

St. Anthony’s physical therapists see it every spring – patients who show up with sprains and strains. These patients range from people who exercise regularly to weekend sports warriors to gardeners and anyone doing anything else outdoors.

Physical therapist Krysti Eckert explains it this way, “Our muscle memory is much shorter than our actual memory. We remember what we did before winter, but if you haven’t done an activity for an extended period of time, you can’t expect to go back to the same level of activity.”

Eckert says spring activity can also aggravate chronic conditions.

“If you have chronic back pain and you sit at home all winter, you may feel okay,” said Eckert. “But then when you get out and get active, it can flare up again.”

Physical therapist Jamie Nobbe says ideally, we would not hibernate all winter, but we all know that’s not an easy thing to do. Nobbe says when you do start getting active, pace yourself.

“Work into an activity,” said Nobbe. “If you know you’re going to start your work softball league in May, hit the field weeks ahead of time or do some general aerobic activity beforehand.”

If your outdoor plans focus on yard work or gardening, you should take it slow. Break up that hour of work with breaks for stretching and warming up. From yard work to the most serious exercise routine, our physical therapists recommend the rule of 10 percent: increase your workout load only by 10 percent each week, which allows for progress but keeps you from overdoing it.

For patients who need help recovering from a spring injury or other ailment and have a doctor’s order, St. Anthony’s offers physical therapy at three locations: 9964 Kennerly Road, Suite D, and Orthopedic and Sports Rehab at 12639 Old Tesson Ferry Rd., both across from St. Anthony’s Medical Center; and at our Arnold Urgent Care location at 3619 Richardson Square Dr. For more information, call 314-ANTHONY.

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