Summit Orthopedics hand therapist Shannon Evenson, OTR/L, CHT, explains what to do if you’ve overdone your summer activities and are having soreness.
In Minnesota, summer is a glorious season, when we can enjoy getting out into our state’s natural beauty after a long, cold winter. In the summer months, people flock outside to garden and do yard work; play sports like golf, tennis, or pickleball; do spring cleaning; or go hiking, cycling, or swimming. With all of these options at our fingertips, it’s easy to overdo it.
“Getting active is good, but if you overdo it, you might find yourself having aches and pains in joints and tendons, or even numbness or tingling of fingers,” said Shannon Evenson, OTR/L, CHT, one of Summit’s team of certified hand therapists.
What to do if you overdo it
- Ice is best in the first few hours or days after an overuse injury — 20 minutes two to four times a day is good.
- Gentle massage and stretching is also helpful. Ice can make the area feel stiff, so ease into massage and stretching after ice.
- If the pain persists, heat might be more helpful in the days to follow. “Heat can be especially helpful if you suspect any arthritis pain could be contributing to your situation,” Evenson said.
How to avoid overdoing it next time
Evenson is a big proponent of prevention. “A few simple steps can prevent overuse injuries from happening in the first place,” she said.
Here are some quick prevention tips:
- Don’t skimp on the warmup — five to 10 minutes of dynamic warmups, that is, gently going through the motions you’ll be using during the activity itself, will help warm up the muscles and lubricate the joints, getting them ready for the full activity.
- Take breaks periodically — doing a half hour each day is better than doing four hours in one day.
- Use good ergonomic tools and good body mechanics during the activity.
- Start slowly — pickleball may be your new favorite sport, but you’ll want to cut your play sessions short at first to avoid injuries.
- Stretch after the activity — static stretching for up to 30 seconds can help with flexibility.
- Know — and heed! — your limits.
- Stay hydrated — good hydration will help prevent injury.
If your discomfort and irritation have lingered for more than a week after overdoing it, even with at-home treatment, it’s time to make an appointment with your primary care provider or orthopedic specialist. “People say all the time, ‘I wish I hadn’t waited so long to come in.’ If you haven’t seen improvement after a week, come in and get it checked out,” Evenson said.