Photo: woods wheatcroft photography

The activities of fall can be painful

The human shoulder joint

Image via Wikipedia

It’s that time of year again.  The days of summer have grown shorter, the mornings are cooler and the leaves are starting to turn yellow.   My patients are all in a buzz.  Canning, putting their gardens to bed, digging, separating plants, moving plants, pruning etc.  This means sore and painful shoulders and backs.  For those of you that missed my gardening thoughts in the spring: an ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure.

Shoulders often become overused or tired from pulling activities or things that require your hands to be outstretched in front of your body for long periods like pruning or digging.  Often the muscles of the rotator cuff, those that support the shoulder, are not strong enough for a days worth of activity.  This may result in soreness, pain or spasm in the muscles on either side of the shoulder blade, on top, above or underneath the shoulder blade or into the armpit as these muscles travel through the shoulder itself to attach on the front of the arm bone.

Your mid back may bother you with prolonged standing all day chopping or reaching in preparation for canning.  If you are standing on a concrete floor with slippers or shoes lacking in arch support this may be an additional problem.  Your low back may bother you with stooping to pick your entire garden just before the first frost, bending or lifting.

Basically, physically doing more on a given day that is above and beyond your normal activity level can be problematic.   Our bodies like movement, but not repetition as we move in the same way over and over again.  Too much of a good thing may not be good.  Variety is the spice of life.  Try to vary your activities, take short breaks.  Think about doing prolonged activities in blocks of 30 minutes.  If you are doing a bending forward activity, try to stop each 30 minutes and bend backwards 10x.  This is easily done by placing your hands in your back pants pockets and bending back then returning to upright standing.  This reverses the bending forward activity.

Preventing shoulder fatigue and injury is not quite as easy.  Again, pacing yourself, taking frequent short breaks is the answer.  If an injury has already occurred, ice usually is helpful for 20-30 minutes.  Wear appropriate footwear to help alleviate mid back fatigue caused by standing on hard surfaces such as tile or concrete for prolonged periods.

Mary Boyd, MS, PT  is the owner of Mountain View Physical Therapy and member of the Sandpoint Wellness Council and is available to answer questions at 290-5575.

Enhanced by Zemanta

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

copyright 2008 - 2017