By Adam Muehl, MPT, CMPT
Warmer weather is upon us. For some of us that might mean walks or jogs in the neighborhood, finally getting around to those overdue landscaping plans, joining the local softball squad, or just finding time to take a snooze under the sun.
Each of these activities and many more may task your musculoskeletal system, well maybe except for the sun filled nap. Unless your idea of activity is waking up to re-apply sunscreen, you may need to help plan to protect your body.
You would not go out to the beach or into the sun for long stretches without wearing appropriate skin protectant. The necessary steps should be taken every time to protect your muscles and joints. This is particularly true when new activities are performed. A new activity for our body might be anything from the obvious such as remodeling the kitchen, training for a race, or landscaping to the less obvious such as hauling luggage across the airport upon return from vacation, resuming lawn mowing, or picking up with the annual recreational softball team.
Planning your body for activity is as essential as planning your family for a vacation. When performing new or even familiar physical activity our body tissues changes. Trained tissue such as that of a marathon runner has changed its physical make up to handle the rigors or grueling distances running. Your body and muscle tissue store enough energy and essentially pace themselves appropriately to complete the task. Of course, this likely comes from years of dedication and constant maintenance.
Beginning a physical project or new sport even for someone who is a faithful exerciser can be of stress to the body. Planning the landscaping project can begin months in advance. A budget needs to be set, saving money may be necessary, seeking ideas for the layout and design, materials to perform the job are secured, and time set aside. It is no small task. You may be planning every detail except for your body. Depending on the scale of work you plan to do and timeframe it may be necessary to exercise and strengthen your body before hand. Digging holes, lifting and carrying retaining wall blocks, small trees, frequent bending, kneeling, etc., will challenge your entire body.
Understanding your own body is important, but so is understanding what your body needs. You will need energy, nutrients, fuel, water, and recovery materials. If this sounds like a recipe, it should. Your body stores energy to be used when it is needed. If your body is prepared to get up from the couch and walk to the kitchen, go to the grocery store, or work that should be no problem. While your mind is prepared to work on the retaining wall, and you worked on your buddy’s yard last year so this should be no big deal. That may not be entirely true. Having the skill set to perform necessary physical work is important from muscle memory but a little more work is needed.
When tasked with new activity your body will use its energy supply and quickly adapt to the demands at hand. Fatigue you feel is similar to the hunger or need for water when dehydration. Your body is using the oxygen, blood supply, and energy to keep your muscles moving. Fatigue and soreness that can be felt is from lactic acid build up due to oxygen usage. The first day of new physical activity or sport breaks down tissue and creates micro trauma. Your body goes into recovery mode in the days following the initial activity. That micro trauma is the soreness you feel. Fortunately, as your body heels it prepares for that activity again so that you’re able to perform better the next time. Your body uses the rest time, particularly sleep, to reconstruct the damaged tissue. Also during this time, stretching will
help form your tissue. Consider it like informing your construction crew on your house how you want the frame of your house to be built. Water intake helps flush the damaged tissue out, sleep helps your body perform the necessary remodeling, and stretching helps realign muscle tissue to its intended length.
Prior to new activity, set a plan to prepare your body. Warm up your body with a brisk 5-10 minute walk. Pumping blood through your body prepares the body with oxygen and nutrients to be ready to work. This acts as priming your body to reduce risk of injury. Drink plenty of water, the recommended 64 ounces per day will help the muscle tissue cells have adequate oxygen and water supply to hold off lactic acid and muscle cramping. Water consumption should be before, during, and after activity. Stretching the intended muscles before and after physical activity for at least 60 seconds has
ben shown to produce tissue elongation. Consume well balance meals with fruit and vegetables containing high quality vitamins and minerals to aide in tissue repair such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D. Avoiding drinks in caffeine and alcohol which dehydrates the body should be avoided to help with tissue repair.
With a good plan, weather, and some luck your spring and summer activities and sporting events can be successful and enjoyable.
Athletico Physical Therapy
PRORehab Athletico Collinsville
1116 Collinsville Crossing Blvd.
Collinsville, IL 62234