Common Autumn Injuries
Should your workout routine change with the seasons?
Fall is here, and along with the changing leaves come changes in our personal routines. As the temperatures drop, you may find yourself outdoors more often, whether doing work around the house or hitting the pavement for a run.
However, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings, and how they can affect — or even injure — you. Summer and winter tend to get a bad rap for being rife with opportunities to hurt yourself (think sunburns and slips on ice), but autumn isn’t far behind. Fall injuries are actually quite common and can be caused by any number of factors. Maybe you’re getting back into serious strength training after a summer of pool-based cardio. Or maybe you’re putting away your baseball glove and cap and grabbing your hockey stick. Whatever the case, be sure to take these precautionary measures so you avoid the following common fall injuries.
Back, shoulder and wrist strain
It’s an incredibly picturesque chore — raking golden leaves into a heaping pile that’s just waiting for the wind or playing children to scatter it down the street. But if you’re the one doing the raking and haven’t been exercising regularly, you can easily strain and injure your back, shoulders and/or wrists in the process. In fact, each year hundreds of thousands of Americans are treated in hospital emergency rooms, doctors’ offices and clinics for injuries related to gardening. That’s because raking involves twisting, bending, lifting and reaching. It also utilizes several different muscle groups. If you’re not performing the repetitive tasks associated with gardening or yard work correctly, you’re risking injury.
If you’re a runner, chances are you have, or will, experience injury. In fact, nearly 80 percent of runners are injured each year. Most of the time, these injuries are caused by overuse. If you subject your body to repeated force on a regular basis, you’re bound to develop an injury. However, sometimes the injury results from your having made a sudden change in how often or how long you run. The most common running injuries include runner’s knee, Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, iliotibial band syndrome, patellar tendinitis, ankle sprains, pulled muscles, blisters, chafing, side stitches and stress fractures (especially in the foot).
The autumn combination of wet leaves and shorter, often overcast days makes walking riskier. In fact, incidences of slip-and-fall injuries increase between October and December. Fallen leaves can also mask uneven ground, making trips and falls even more likely.
How can I avoid these fall injuries?
The key is to start slow with any new activity, and to make sure you’re avoiding the “terrible too’s”: too much, too fast, too soon. You can do so by following the “10 Percent Rule,” which specifies that you should never increase your weekly activity or any single workout by more than 10 percent over the previous week.
If you are starting a new workout, set yourself a goal of remaining balanced. Cross train instead of just picking one exercise. Be sure to include exercises that cover the fitness spectrum, from cardio health to strength training to boosting flexibility. Whatever you do, don’t forget to warm up your muscles beforehand. A five- to 10-minute warmup should get the blood pumping to your muscles and soft tissues and prepare your musculoskeletal system for action. Once you’re warmed up, stretch out any tight spots in your arms, backs, legs, neck, etc.
If you’re looking for more tips for avoiding injury this fall, try these.
- Get help. If you haven’t worked out in a while, or are picking up a new activity, join a class or partner with a trainer or coach to help you get back into the swing of things. Partners will help make sure you’re executing each activity correctly, therefore reducing your risk of becoming injured.
- Listen to your body. If your muscles, joints etc. are telling you that you’re going too far, you probably are. Heed these early warnings.
- Follow the 48-hour rule. It’s normal for your muscles to be sore for about 48 hours after a workout. But if you have pain that lasts longer than that and refuses to get better, you need to check with your doctor.
- Follow these simple raking rules: don’t twist your body, use your legs to shift your weight, use a properly-sized rake for your height and strength, wear gloves, bend at your knees (not your waist), wear shoes with skid-resistant soles, drink plenty of fluids and don’t overdo it.
- Follow these simple running rules: warm up, cool down, keep good form, replace your old sneakers, run on even surfaces and mix it up with strength training.
Learn more about preventing fall injuries
If you think you might have an injury and would like to learn more about possible treatment options, or want to know more about preventing injuries, schedule an evaluation with Onward Orthopedics today. It’s as easy as submitting an online form or calling one of our friendly Patient Care Managers at 210.880.3823.