Dr Bret Wilson

Labor Day

Dr Bret WilsonWe are just enjoying a long Labor Day holiday weekend. Like many of you, we enjoyed our extra time off getting things done around the house and having some fun. Perhaps like many of you, we over did the activities and will limp back into work on Tuesday. I thought while the aching muscles and sting of the sunburn was still fresh, we would investigate how to enjoy a holiday weekend without beating ourselves up. “A prescription for a healthy holiday.”

Maintain Rituals (Healthy Habits) – Don’t abandon healthy habits just because it is the holiday. Try to maintain a schedule of regular meals, sleep and exercise. Your body responds best to regular cycles of sleep, activity and nourishment. Go to bed and get up about the same time whether you are working or on vacation, you will sleep better, be more rested for your activities and not have to readjust your internal alarm clock for a return to work. Moderate physical activity is also key to good health during the holiday. Use the extra time to take a long walk, bike ride or hike. Maybe play a round of golf, game of tennis or volleyball. Catching up on yard work or a project that has been put off is also a form of physical activity. Moderation is the key. Warm up prior to the activity. Take periodic rests and hydration breaks during the activity. Don’t wait for thirst or fatigue to tell you to take a break, plan it into the routine, before your body is screaming at you to stop. Perhaps most important to avoid the post activity pains is cool down and stretch out afterward to work the lactic acid out of your muscles, balance out over worked areas and activate those areas not stimulated. You will then rest better and be ready to go the next day. Finally, fuel the machine regularly with protein, complex carbs and healthy fats. Smaller more frequent meals, healthy snacks are the key to adequate fuel, higher energy and maintaining healthy body weight. If these rituals are not part of your normal health routine, then use the holiday to develop a plan and start your own healthy rituals.

Avoid Weekend Warrior Syndrome – You work hard, you feel like you are running from dusk till dawn, Monday through Friday, now it is the holiday weekend and you are going to have fun, lot’s of fun, even if it hurts. This syndrome takes on many forms. Four hours of volleyball at the picnic, even though you have not jumped so much as a crack in the sidewalk for five years. Build the garden wall and barbeque in 48 hours, by yourself. “Reward” yourself by eating and drinking everything in sight all weekend. To dovetail on our first point moderation and some maintenance of healthy habits can avoid this common plight. Listen to the little voice in your head that asks you if this is such a good idea. Participate in volleyball, but take time to rest, take in fluids, and avoid the marathon that you are not in shape for. If you “tweak” your knee in the second game, stop playing get off your leg, ice it and cheer from the sideline. Break the garden wall and barbeque project into reasonable stages, build in time for delays, rest breaks and maintain proper posture and muscle balance during the work. Just like the sports activity, be sure to warm up, take proper hydration and food, and cool down after. Reward yourself with a holiday from hurried meals, convenience foods and unhealthy eating patterns. Eat for quality not quantity. Smaller healthier meals are the rule. Not the binge and gluttony attitude.

In Case of Injury – If, despite all your good intentions you do get injured, what can you do? Of course, in the case of significant injury seek medical attention, either through medical squad, emergency room or urgent care. These injury conditions can include, but are not limited to: bleeding, fracture, loss of consciousness, chest pain, and disorientation. Err on the side of caution when these types of situations occur. Often it is up to others near by, not the injured party themselves to make the decision. Take action now, find out it was nothing serious later.

Thankfully most injuries are not life threatening or disabling. The most common may be strains, sprains and over use of muscle type injuries. Prevention is the best approach, regular healthy habits allow you to participate in activities with a reduced chance of injury. It is a lot to ask your body to go from couch potato to quarterback. Keeping your body healthy and active on a daily basis improves your work and leisure activity. Choose the level of activity that matches the intensity you are accustomed to. Pay attention to your body as you participate. Be consistent in your underestimation of your ability to participate at the intensity and duration of the activity. Because unfortunately, it is not until after the fact, “the morning after201D if you will, that we discover that we have pushed ourselves too far.

If a minor injury does occur, stop the activity at the first sign of injury. Support the injured area by finding a comfortable position or at least one that is most comfortable, that takes weight and stress off of the injured area.. Ice is your ally to reduce swelling, decrease inflammation and provide some local pain relief. Apply the ice to the injured area, 15-20 minutes, wait about 1 hour then repeat. Multiple short applications work better than continuous long term use of ice. Drink extra amounts of water to hydrate and help flush the system. As the condition’s recovery will allow, mild stretching and pain free range of motion of the area may be helpful. Forcing the area to move through painful movements or stretches will not be a benefit. The old adage of “No pain no gain” does not apply. If the strain injury is not improving significantly or getting gradually worse in 24 to 72 hours, consult your medical or chiropractic physician.

Enjoy your time off, be smart, be safe, and be healthy.

Bret Wilson, DC