Summer is upon us, rather suddenly it seems. A snowstorm in late May gave way to what so far has been beautiful weather. Nowhere is this more evident than on the roads and in the parks around Greater Cleveland.
Our summers are short, so when the opportunity presents itself, we hit the outdoors with a vengeance. Almost overnight the bike lanes are filled up with bicyclists. Joggers are everywhere. The municipal tennis courts are filled, and a golf tee time becomes more difficult to find.
Even performing yard work—not traditionally thought of as an athletic endeavor—stresses muscles, tendons and joints that have not been stressed since the last days of autumn. As we rush to enjoy the outdoors, and get in some physical activity, hopefully some common sense advice can keep you out of my office.
As we age, our muscles aren’t as pliable as they were when we were younger. That makes them more prone to muscle strains which can occur as a result of repetitive overuse. This is even more so early in the season, particularly if we haven’t been physically active over the cold winter months.
A gentle stretching regimen will prepare the muscles for physical exertion, and can be done before as well as after the physical activity. Plan to increase your exertion gradually. Rather than going out on that first five mile hike, perhaps a couple of one mile hikes might help to build endurance and strength, as you work yourself up to mid-season form.
The same applies to yard work. Rather than raking your entire yard of winter debris, break it down into smaller increments. If you find that you have overdone it, and feel aches or pains, do not try to work through it. “No pain, no gain” does not apply to recreational athletes, and certainly does not apply to yard work.
Stop performing the activity that is causing pain. Ice may be applied to the affected body part, and can help to diminish swelling. An elastic wrap, if applicable, can also help to diminish swelling and provide support. Elevation can help to alleviate swelling as well. Over the counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen can be taken as directed if concurrent medical conditions do not preclude their use. Hopefully these simple tips can help keep you out of my office and enjoying yourself outdoors.
Dr. Matthew Levy, orthopedic surgeon at the Spine and Orthopedic Institute at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center in Solon, specializes in general orthopedics and sports medicine. For a consultation, call 440-248-1297.