By Dr. Jeff Barnett, Chiropractor, OCP Co-director
With 2020 behind us, I’m sure we’re all looking forward to the sense of renewal that spring offers. And although COVID-19 is still very much a big influence on our daily lives, spring offers those of us fortunate enough to live in the Okanagan and surrounding areas an abundance of outdoor activities and adventures. That being said, consider that many of you may have been hibernating over the winter and need to ease into these new activities. So here’s a few tips to make your spring transition a happier and healthier one.
- Ease into it! Every year at this time we get a steady influx of individuals who all of the sudden are suffering from sore backs, shoulders, hips, knees, etc. (pretty much any joint in the body!) Whether you’re getting back into the garden, dusting off the golf clubs, pulling the bike out of the garage, or just wanting to get out for some walks in the sunshine, just remember that your body needs to get used to these new activities. Going 0-60 seconds is just asking for trouble. So be realistic with your goals at the beginning. Which leads us into our next tip…
- Pace yourself and take frequent rest breaks. If you’re outside working in the garden, or in the garage doing some spring cleaning, consider setting a timer for 30 minutes. Do some work, then take a break in 30 minute intervals to go get some water, have a stretch, or go to another activity for a short time. Then come back and start again. If you’re back on the golf course, the pathway, the trail, or the court, start out going just a few days per week. And NOT as hard as you can! You have all season to build up.
- Remember to stretch. New activities means using muscles that may have been neglected over the winter. So listen to your body. As mentioned above, take some time to gently stretch those working muscles during extended periods of activity. And I would highly recommend taking additional time in the evening before bed applying heat to those tight areas, and further stretching and/or gently massaging the tired muscles from the day. Your body will thank you in the morning! Unsure how to stretch? There’s some great information on the Canadian Chiropractic Association resource page.
- Always stay hydrated. And no, your morning coffee is not hydration! Increased activity means increased demand for fluids in our bodies. And even though it may not feel that hot outside yet, your body needs those essential fluids to function. According to HealthLink BC, it is recommended that the average adult drink 6 to 8 250 mL (8 fl oz) glasses of water or other fluid daily. This recommended amount may vary depending on your overall health, how active you are, and how hot and dry the climate is. Unsure if you’re drinking enough water? Just make sure your urine is clear or pale yellow, and drink when you’re thirsty! A great way to prep for the day is to have a large glass of water first thing in the morning. It will also get your body ready to digest your breakfast.
- When possible, be outside with others. This may unfortunately be more difficult for some during the current COVID-19 restrictions. However, when possible participating in these various spring activities with a member of your household, co-worker, or member of your bubble, has a variety of benefits. Firstly, isn’t it nice to be outside in the presence of others! Other key benefits include:
- Working or training outside with someone provides a “pace bunny” effect. You can check in on each other and make sure you’re doing well.
- If performing some heavy work, a second set of hands is always welcomed. “Think twice, lift once”. (I’m sure I stole that form a WorkSafe BC message)
- On a more serious note, this can be a big safety benefit. A new stress or overexertion can result in something as simple as a muscle strain, or as serious as a heart attack. So being in the presence of others is an important lifeline.
I’m sure there’s lots of other wonderful and important considerations to add to this list. Just keep in mind your body is not a machine. And if you end up working a little too hard, our amazing team at Orchard Chiropractic & Physiotherapy is here to help! So be kind to your body. Move well. Feel well. Be well!