The warm weather is here, and we have begun to cross off items on the “to-do” lists we crafted during winter. Some of us have made extremely long lists that are a mix of summertime fun and summertime chores, but whatever you have on your list, make sure you follow a few simple rules to avoid a trip to the emergency room.
“If doing something hurts, stop doing it,” said Melinda Allaire, PT, CLT Lymph Certified Therapist for RI Rehabilitation Services, and she teaches classes on lymphedema and breast reconstruction at the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation.
We convince ourselves that we’re able to lift more than we actually can or we’re able to cycle more miles than our bodies can handle. We believe the ridiculous adage, “no pain, no gain,” and that type of thinking often leads to injury.
“Weekend warriors tend to get injured because they take on too much and aren’t necessarily in shape,” said Allaire.
The best way to avoid injury while completing that weekend project is to stretch. Allaire’s advice is to perform slow neck and shoulder rolls for a couple of minutes, and stretch hamstrings just until you feel the stretch, before you begin working. More importantly, she suggests stopping to stretch while working. She also recommends breaking large projects into smaller, manageable sections. Of course, staying well-hydrated; wearing a hat; and slathering on a good coating of sunblock with a 30spf are also important.
In addition to the above information, breast cancer survivors need to take additional steps to ensure their summer is safe and injury-free. Breast cancer survivors should wear a compression sleeve on the arm of the affected side. They should also apply extra sunblock to any exposed skin that had been radiated, and they should avoid outside work or exercise in the early morning and just before dusk, when mosquitos are most active.
“Mosquito bites can cause cellulitis which can lead to lymphedema.” Allaire said.
The same rules apply to outdoor exercise. Gentle stretching of the muscles that will be used during the exercise and hydration are key. Allaire also warns to avoid strenuous exercise when the thermometer’s mercury is at its highest level.
If you do overdo it, and most of us have this tendency, Allaire suggests rest and ice to the area that was overworked. If the symptoms don’t go subside in a couple of days, she recommends you contact your doctor.
“You should seek medical attention immediately if there is any discoloration of the skin [of the injured area], you experience a rise in temperature or you experience sharp pain that doesn’t dissipate,” she said.
Summer is a great time to spend outdoors with long days and warm weather, and following a few common sense rules is a great defense to keep you in the summertime game.
By: Carol Donnelly, Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation