Earlier months in the year have come and gone, and the routines of the cold weather months may be changing. Increased daylight hours have allowed for more time outdoors, participating in leisure and work. As the events that consume our free time begin to change, the physical demands on our bodies, specifically our hands, ought to be thought about and considered to prevent injury.
Whether it is a racket sport or taking care of the lawn, many warm-weather activities require repetitive and resisted movements of the upper body. A way to prevent some common overuse injuries to the hands, wrists, and elbows is to start small or short and build our way up.
One method to prevent injury and improve muscular endurance is using a timer and performing 10-15 minutes of the desired activity. For example, choose one task and perform it for a short time before taking a break and moving to the next task.
An additional recommendation to improve endurance is to perform functional movements to warm up your body. For example, someone who wants to improve their over-hand serve (or ability to start a gas-powered mower) should perform exercises of the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, trunk, and hips in ways that involve the joints in a combination of one another. Some exercises to achieve this goal are the following: bent-over rows, shoulder pressing, planks, and squats with reach.
More specifically, many of the activities performed during warm weather can be hazardous to our orthopedic health because of less-than-ideal ergonomic posturing. Whether changing the oil on your motor or packing the car for that family trip, the way we position our bodies in combination with our environment is vitally important for injury prevention. Some good consideration for safety is to adapt our environment to meet the specifics of our uniquely designed bodies, compared to the other way around. For example, raising the height of our computer screen, sliding our driver’s seat forward or backward, and changing the handle position on that heavy yard tool are minor adjustments we can control to minimize unnecessary torque or poor postures with resistance.
Lastly, to protect our hands from injury, one should consider the physical properties of our environment and equipment like sharpness, temperature, and vibration. Choosing to use “cut-gloves,” or thickened padded mesh gloves, to minimize lacerations can prevent injuries to the tendons and skin. Taking extra time to put on and wear insulated gloves for both hot and cold to reduce drastic temperature changes to our hands’ highly sensitive nerve endings can also be an important consideration. And lastly, using antivibration gloves before working with power tools or motors that can fatigue the muscles of our hand and possibly compress our nerves. Sometimes, the challenges of tasks like these cannot be avoided, so it is important to protect ourselves from dangerous physical properties to prevent injury proactively. Spring and summer should be fun. Considering the demands and implications many of our desired tasks have on our health will prevent injury and keep us healthy to continue to participate and do all the things that we enjoy.
If you experience pain or injury, request a free assessment from a licensed occupational therapist at an Athletico near you. Free Assessments are available in-clinic and virtually through our Telehealth platform.
*Per federal guidelines, beneficiaries of plans such as Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, VHA and other federally funded plans are not eligible for free assessments.
The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.