December 6th, 2013

Health N' Sports: Dealing with the Holidays

Staff Report

Health N' Sports: Dealing with the Holidays
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As a part of the Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic, the Sports Rehab Team physical therapists are knowledgeable and trained in the latest advancements and techniques available in sports rehabilitation.

On a weekly basis, the Health N’ Sports Update will give information on prevention, recovery, and include special offers, as well as general health tips that would be beneficial to all. If there is a specific topic you’d like to know or hear more about, email future suggestions to

Tis the season

Preparing for the holidays, with the shopping, cleaning and decorating, there are many common seasonal overuse injuries that will show up in the clinic soon. As the leaves pile up in the yard, and those boxes of greens and lights await you in the garage, these are 2 of the common activities at this time of the year that stress our joints. Those of us that already have some intermittent issues with our joints, or those who are more sedentary, the repetitious nature of these activities and the hours spent completing our task, are the perfect recipe for pain and inflammation.

Raking and Bagging Leaves

Although there is nothing heavy about leaves, it's the 100's of repetitions and the hours involved that we subject our shoulders and elbows to that leads to overuse syndromes.  Repetitious forward bending at the waist and lifting heavy bags out to the curb, stresses the lower lumbar disc, may find some not able to get out of bed the morning after.

Hanging of the greens and Christmas lights

If you're like me, I hang 100's of lights on my trees out front, but every year, there is a feeling of dread lingering over the operation. Typically, I will “pay for this" for a week or two after the task is completed. Up and down that ladder, 100's of times, is a sure fire way for a next day of knee pain, swelling and stiffness.  I've never had any back issues, but moving that heavy 10ft fiberglass ladder always tightens my back up the next day.

Those of us with some pre-existing conditions with our joints, poor core strength, or just plain sedentary, are ripe for a next day visit from Father Time. Let's consider some common sense approaches to combat next day pain and stiffness.


Perform a task in a piecemeal fashion. As with leaves, perform task over 2-3 days, as opposed to 6-7 hours straight. Take frequent breaks, or alternate task...rake some, blow some, bag some. I've gone to hanging lights over a period of days, and alternating with climbs up and down the ladder with untangling another set of lights. If you're really lucky, getting a hold of several ladders to avoid frequent moving of heavy ladders when you're getting fatigued.

Body Mechanics

If one's back is a little suspect, avoid repetitious forward bending with straight legs. When moving that heavy ladder, tighten the abdominals and tip the ladder back toward you. I suggest dragging leaf bags to the curb vs. carrying them.  For those with knee related issues, up/down that ladder dozens of times will no doubt flare that knee up. There is little way around this, but protecting that knee with going up 1 step at a time is effective.

First Aid

If these activities have caused problems before, or you're not in the best of shape, why not perform a little pre-emptive first aid after you've finished. Ice the shoulder or knee immediately after, or at worst, later that evening, a dose or 2 of over the counter anti-inflammatory medication.

So in closing, know your limitations, use good body mechanics, perform activities in moderation, and if needed, Ice and anti-inflammatory. Enjoy a pain free holiday!

-Tom Mooney, P.T.-

Louisville Orthopaedic Cilnic and Sports Rehab Center                                                          

4130 Dutchman’s Ln, Ste. 300 

Louisville, KY 40207                            

Ph. 502-897-1794   


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