Spring Activity Pacing
With spring upon us, many of us will be inspired to do work outdoors that we haven't done in about six months. Whatever task you are performing, it is important to remember to pace your activity so you do not over-tire your body. This is especially important when performing an activity you haven't done in a while. We must give our bodies adequate time to build up strength and tolerance to the activity. It is unrealistic to expect that after 6 months, we would be able to work at the intensity we were working at the end of last season. Our bodies do adjust, and build strength, flexibility and tolerance to activity, but we must address activity like we do a new exercise. We must start with lower resistance and lower repetitions. For example, plant ¼ of your seeds in one day rather than all of them, while stretching every 10 minutes, or raking a smaller section of your yard and stopping to check your posture every 10 minutes.
Many people struggle especially when it is a "good day", when there is little pain. On these days it is common to try to get everything done, because "I may not feel this well tomorrow". But in doing this, you are likely guaranteeing that you will in fact not feel well tomorrow, because you did too much today. The idea behind pacing your activity is so you can be functional every day, rather than having one "good" day followed by three "bad" days.
There are many different ways to pace your activity. The first step is to determine a schedule for pacing. It is ideal to pace prior to the onset or increase in soreness. So if you know you begin to experience soreness after 15 minutes in the garden, set a timer for 10 minutes, and stretch or rest when the timer goes off for 2-3 minutes. Repeat this technique for as long as you are working. Pacing may be as simple as checking your posture, doing a couple of stretches, standing and going for a short walk. Some people find it helpful to set out a schedule of tasks that require different body positioning to alternate between so there is no "down time", rather, a rotating chore schedule that serves to pace each activity. It is important to be creative in your pacing so it is easy for you to do.
Remember, as your tolerance for the activity improves, your need for pacing will decrease. So enjoy the weather, being outdoors, and being active.
More than the programs ...
At The Pain Center, all of our doctor's and therapists see patients outside of the programs. If you have a new injury, significant stressor, severe pain flare-up or need to adjust your home exercise program - come back to the team that you trust. We're happy to help.
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