Hello Spring

As the trees begin to bud and warmer weather settles in, I often see a few common complaints start to "spring up".

Spring is full of activities like spring cleaning our homes, sprucing up our yards, prepping our gardens, taking long walks in the sunshine, and shoveling a heavy spring snow like we got last week!

With the increase in these various spring activities, I often see clients with complaints of pain in the lower back and in the shins/calves and feet. The advice and ideas below are the tips I often talk to clients about to help reduce pain in the lower legs, feet and lower back so you can better enjoy the beautiful spring season!

*Please remember, I'm sharing commonalities and tips that I've seen in my practice for the last 25 years. Always consult with your healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment plans.

Achy feet and legs

With the arrival of spring and the warmer temps, many of us have pulled out our sandals and flip flops, which are typically (and sadly) not the best footwear. Also, with the longer days and more sunshine, we are all eager to hit the streets and trails, and we may be amping up our workouts in anticipation of the summer vacations to come. All of these things lead to an increase in one of my top client complaints- aches and pains in the lower legs and feet. 

So, what can we do? Besides coming in for your regularly scheduled massage, there are things you can do in your own home to help!

For the shins (the front of the lower leg)- Not addressing tightness in the shin muscles can lead to a host of issues from shin splints to plantar fasciitis to anterior compartment syndrome and more. These muscles are nearly impossible to stretch, so instead, you'll need to focus more on self-massaging these muscles. Think foam rollers or tools like a massage stick, or even a rolling pin. Also try alternating heat packs or hot epsom salt baths with ice baths (I use a 5-gallon bucket and fill with cold water and ice and then dunk one leg at a time for a few minutes).

For the feet- shoes with good arch support are really the best advice. But I also understand the desire to wear flip flops at times. Try rolling your arches on a golf ball or a frozen water bottle after a day of walking in your spring shoes, or if your arches are sore after a hike, skiing, or a high impact workout. 

Pain in the back

Along with the increased exercise and outdoor activities, maybe you're also doing some spring cleaning or starting your gardening. With lots of bending and lifting after a sedentary winter, I tend to see more clients experiencing lower back pain. In addition to coming to see me, you can also try epsom salt baths, working to improve your core strength and maybe also seeing your chiropractor to help straighten you out. But what else can you do on your own to stay loose and pain free?

To help with low back pain, I recommend self-massaging by laying on a tennis or lacrosse ball to loosen the muscles on either side of the spine. Just lie down and start with the ball on one side of the spine and let your body weight do the work.

But what helps people more than anything? Stretching, stretching, stretching!! To combat that pesky low back pain, you must stretch your glutes and hammies! When your back side muscles are tight, they pull on your low back and can cause that deep aching.

Best stretch for the glutes/booty muscles is the figure four stretch. Figure 4 stretching (youtube.com)

Best stretch for the hamstrings/back of the upper leg muscles- The wall stretch. How to stretch your hamstrings: wall stretch (POGO Physio) (youtube.com)

The key is to do these stretches daily!! Even when you feel good, the stretches will help keep you loose and blood flow moving for the days when you require more use of your low back.

If you have any questions about any of this information, please reach out to me! I'd love to help you relieve those spring aches and pains so you can get out and enjoy the all the things spring has to offer!

Much love,

Bryn Rath, CMT