As Canadians, we’re no strangers to the change of seasons. There’s something to look forward to with every new season. With fall just around the corner, let’s have a look at how physiotherapy can help through Canada’s four seasons.
Fall: Raking Leaves
It can be fun to watch your kids jump in a pile of leaves, but it can also be annoying when you’ve raked your lawn, only to wake up the next day to find that it didn’t make a difference. With new research showing that you can compost your leaves or create mulch for your lawn by mowing over them, you may not even have to rake your leaves at all. But if you choose to pick up a rake, take the following tips into consideration to help reduce your risk of injury:
- Take five minutes to stretch beforehand to loosen and warm up your muscles and get your blood flowing, as cold or tight muscles are more prone to injury; don’t forget to stretch your hamstrings, as tight hamstrings put extra stress on your lower back.
- To protect your back, use a lighter, plastic rake.
- Pace yourself (this means more hot chocolate breaks!)
- Don’t reach too far forward while raking – take more steps so you don’t overstrain your back.
- Use a light, plastic shovel to put leaves in a leaf bag-lined garbage bin, bending at your knees and lifting your legs, not your back. Don’t twist or turn your back – turn your whole body, and keep your load light, especially if the leaves are wet and heavy.
Bonus: These tips can also be used for shovelling snow.
Winter: Slips and Falls
We experience winter for almost half the year – that’s a lot of potential for slips and falls.
To reduce your changes of falling, wear warm boots with grips on the bottom, and take smaller steps. Salt or sand your walkways and driveway, and don’t carry heavy or awkward bags and packages if you can help it.
For people who have a higher risk of falling, like seniors, it’s a good idea to see a physiotherapist for falls prevention exercises to improve balance and coordination.
Spring: Gardening and Walking
Spring is time to get back outside to nature, whether it’s walking or getting your garden growing again. If you have osteoarthritis, or suffer from tendonitis such as jumper’s knee, or golfer’s or tennis elbow, consider seeing a physiotherapist so you can continue your hobbies in comfort.
Even if you just have sore and achy joints, if it interferes with your activities, a physiotherapist can prescribe exercises and drug-free treatment to help relieve pain.
Summer: Exercise and Activities
Summer means you can finally get back to outdoor activities like golf, tennis, and running. To make sure you can enjoy them all summer, stretch daily, as well as warm up and cool down before and after each activity.
If you do sustain an injury, like a mild strain or sprain, you can ease your symptoms at home using the RICE protocol:
- Rest the injury for 24 hours and avoid activities that could further injure or aggravate it
- Ice the injured area 3-4 times a day for 10-15 minutes at a time
- Compress the injury with a compression bandage to control swelling
- Elevate the injured area to help relieve swelling
If your symptoms don’t improve with these at-home remedies or your injury is more severe, a physiotherapist can create a custom treatment plan to get you back into tip-top shape.
Physiotherapists are experts in body mechanics and restoring and improving mobilities, so if you do find yourself in pain, don’t hesitate to get help. Enjoy Canada’s diversity and stay safe and healthy!