There are many things we associate with Springtime; warmer days, blooming flowers, fresh air, the sun feeling so good on your face, and a reminder that summer is on its way. It feels energizing and it's often a time when goals are set or revisited. Much like January 1st, this time of year feels like a good time to reset, clean out, exercise, eat healthy, etc.
This can feel overwhelming if the end goal you desire is far away from where you are in the present. I’ve learned that for myself, this often results in one of two disparate scenarios: 1. Doing nothing because it feels like too much to tackle or 2. Attempting to make drastic changes that eventually become fatiguing or unsustainable.
In reality, the best way to approach a big goal is somewhere in between; taking small steps and making gradual, steady changes over time that you can build on. If you want to run a marathon, you don’t start with a 26 mile run. There are a lot of shorter, then progressively longer runs that need to happen before you get there. Usually the loftier the goal or desired change, the more work it takes to attain. To do this effectively you need a solid plan, commitment, support and accountability.
This concept is especially important in rehab and recovery. Atrophy, loss of strength and mobility can occur very quickly with forced rest, immobilization, illness, or general inactivity. Building strength and endurance takes time, consistency, and the right amount of time for adequate healing/recovery. Not doing enough or doing too much too soon can both lead to lost ground in your recovery. Finding this balance can be tricky and that is where the guidance of a physical therapist can be key to helping you achieve your goals when it comes to activity. We are also of course here to provide support and accountability along the way.
I often refer to Physical Stress Theory when explaining injury and recovery conceptually to patients. The theory essentially discusses physical stress (activity, load) and its adaptive effect on our biological tissue - muscles, bones, ligaments, connective tissue, etc. The five tissue responses run along a spectrum starting with tissue death (extreme loss of stress), atrophy (not enough stress), to maintenance (equal amounts of stress), to hypertrophy (enough stress), to injury (too much stress), and finally tissue death (excessive stress). Finding the right zone is key to a smooth recovery on your way to that end goal. Too little or too much activity, load, stretch, etc can push you to the undesired ends of this spectrum.
So if one of your Springtime goals includes getting your body moving, returning to a sport or activity you have been avoiding because of pain or inability, come see us. We will get you to that end goal with small steady steps, the right way, to ensure your success and growth!
Kali Larue, DPT