By: The Team at Elliot Outpatient Occupational Therapy 

Spring is finally here, and it is time to get outdoors! This time of year, at Elliot Outpatient Occupational Therapy, we commonly see injuries resulting from gardening, kayaking, biking, golf, and tennis/pickleball. Before you jump off the couch and get back to your favorite activities, consider our prevention tips to make sure you can enjoy the entire season.

4 Spring/Summer Injury Myths

We are dedicated to helping our patients get back to the activities they love. In addition to treating an injury or illness, we focus on injury prevention, modification of tasks, and energy conservation. Often that means overcoming some common myths.
The four most common myths regarding injury and treatment for injury are:
1. “I have bone on bone, so I can’t move my joint.”  
Fact: Motion is lotion for our joints. It is okay to move your joints through a pain-free range of motion to give your joint relief and longevity.

2. “Modifying your activity means you are weak.” 
Fact: Modification keeps you doing the activities you love.

3. “No pain, no gain.”
Fact: Listen to your body! Resting helps to repair muscles and bring pain relief.

4. “Oh, it’s just the normal amount of pain with this.”
Fact: Having pain is not normal.

Injury Prevention

Prevention of injury with task/tool modification, joint protection, and energy conservation will keep you in action. Most injuries are caused by poor positioning, repeated stress to the same area, and not listening to your body. Prevention is always the best medicine.

Here are our favorite ways to prevent or manage injuries while you participate in your favorite spring activities.

General Guidelines for Any Body and Any Activity

•    Pace yourself! Do not rush through tasks. Slowly build up to any activity. Jumping off the couch and trying to go for a 10-mile hike or garden for the whole day will only make you sore and may put you at risk of an injury. Don’t be a weekend warrior; keep active throughout the week.
•    Warm up and stretch before and during task performance. Begin your activity slowly for the first five minutes, then stretch before you start pushing yourself. Stretch every time you take a break, no matter the activity you choose.
•    Keep hydrated.


•    Wear gloves to protect from blisters, thorns, and bacteria. A finger infection will ruin your day.
•    Wear long sleeves to protect from thorns, poisonous plants, spiders, or mosquito bites.
•    Take a break at least every hour to rest your hands, back, and neck.
•    Use built-up grip/ergonomic garden tools to avoid grasping too tightly and damaging your hands. Work your wrist at a neutral (wrist not down or up and hand in handshake position) position to help prevent injuries to the wrist and forearm.
•    Use tools to help you lift. Instead of carrying that 20-pound bag of soil, use a garden cart. One with two wheels is easier to balance than a wheelbarrow and will put less stress and pressure on the hands or arms.
•    Use longer-handled tools for more leverage. Use power tools when able for tasks like trimming bushes or trees.
•    Alternate heavy and light work.
•    Avoid maintaining a tight grasp like holding a heavy pot or constant digging.
•    Watch for pressure points. Don’t lean your weight onto your hands. Move your entire body to the new location or use a rolling stool. Use knee pads when kneeling.
•    Slide heavy objects instead of lifting them.


•    Start slowly- use a walking trail or bike trail before you start climbing.
•    Poles are a great addition to help your knees and back. Use hiking poles correctly, and be sure they have an ergonomic grip.
•    Pay attention to where you place your hands.
•    Always wear proper footwear.
•    Research the trail on an app like All Trails to make sure the trail matches your ability.


•    Make sure your feet are on the pegs and your seat is properly adjusted so you do not have to produce more power through your upper body.
•    Grasp the paddle firmly enough to maintain contact but not so hard that your knuckles are white.
•    Keep arms as low and close to your body as possible.
•    Be careful getting in and out of the kayak!
•    Have someone help you lift your kayak onto your car.


•    Adjust your seat, handlebars, and pedals to the correct height. Check online resources or your local bike shop for standards.
•    Increase grip size and consider having bar ends to change your grip. Avoid extended periods of pressure at the base of the hand.
•    Wear gloves to prevent blisters, give you a better grip, and protect your hands as you move through the brush.


•    Make sure your clubs are the correct length.
•    Use built up grips.
•    Make sure to use your legs as well as your arms to swing the club.
•    Watch your posture.


•    Use the right sized racquet.
•    One-handed back hand puts a lot of strain on the outside of the elbow. Use two hands.

With that in mind, get outdoors and have some safe, injury-free fun! Elliot Occupational Therapy is here to help you achieve your goals at any of our convenient locations throughout southern New Hampshire. Occupational Therapy requires a provider referral. To schedule an appointment, call 603-663-3672 or fax 603-663-8482.