Fall Activities and Physical Therapy: Safely Enjoying Autumn Adventures

By: Marie Serrado As we begin to transition from Summer to Fall, many of us begin to embrace the transitions and changes that come with it. Autumn brings an exciting new feel to Fall. From outdoor activities to adventures, from hiking, to picking apples from a tree, to even enjoying a pumpkin patch, Autumn hosts so many opportunities to enjoy the weather and have some fun. However, with the weather changes as well as embarking on new activities, it also showcases potential concerns, especially those who are engaged with physical therapy. In this blog, we'll explore how you can enjoy fall activities safely by incorporating physical therapy practices into your autumn adventures.    Pre Activity-Warm ups:   Before starting any new and fun activity it's always important to incorporate some warm up exercise to get your body warm and prepared. A good workout can help increase blood-flow in the body while also helping you prevent injuries. Depending on what your PT says every workout is different based on your individual needs and concerns. But some common warm ups they may recommend is to do some stretches, muscle activations, or mobility exercises, to help warm up the body.     Hiking Activities:   Hiking during fall is a cherished activity that holds many benefits not only for your health but also for your mental health. However, hiking can also be dangerous. Many tend to underestimate the risks of what hiking can pose. Which is why you should always know your own limitations, and current capabilities. Always consult with your physical therapist as they know tips and tricks to help gradually increase your tolerance while also helping you on how to reduce your chances of joint and muscle strains.     Apple Picking Adventures:   Who doesn’t love a delicious apple! Apple picking is a great way to get you up and on your feet. But before you grab a delicious red apple, it's best to start with warming up to prevent any arm injuries and reduce any risks. Some light shoulder exercises should help with warming up your body. Now that you have stretched, it's time to grab some apples. Always remember to measure the distance between you and the apple tree, the closer the better!   Keep in mind that if you are far from the apples, you may compromise shoulder mechanics and neck posture. Grabbing a step ladder can help reduce the need to reach out, and make sure the step ladder is in a secure place as you don't want to increase chances of falling.     Pumpkin Patches and Physical Therapy:   With Fall comes Pumpkins and with Pumpkins comes pumpkin patches. Pumpkins come in many different shapes and sizes,they may look light but they are heavy. They can also be hard to grab properly, thus lifting can be a problem. But using proper lifting mechanics can help reduce risk of injuring your back. An exercise that can be utilized is the squat lift!    To start the squat lift you must:  
      1. Face the pumpkin, stand as close as you can with your feet on either side of it. 
      2. Squat down by bending at your hips and knees while keeping your back straight. 
      3. Wrap your hands underneath the pumpkin, keeping the pumpkin close to your body. 
      4. Push back up through your legs, keeping your weight towards your heels to use your glutes and avoid using your back.
Conclusion:   Fall activities offer countless opportunities for adventure and enjoyment. With the guidance and support of your physical therapist, you can safely partake in these autumn pastimes while continuing your journey towards recovery and well-being. Remember to listen to your body, take it at your own pace, and consult with your physical therapist to ensure your safety and success.    References:  
      1. Brookline. “Preparing for Apple Picking to Make Sure There Are No Injuries!” Post PT Boston, 29 Sept. 2020, postpt.com/preparing-for-apple-picking-to-make-sure-there-are-no-injuries/.  
      2. Orsquo Connell, Ronan. “Ready to Plan Your Fall Hike? Read This Safety Advice First.” Travel, National Geographic, 19 Oct. 2023, www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/article/off-season-dangers-in-national-parks-you-need-to-know.  
      3. “Proper Pumpkin Lifting Mechanics.” React Physical Therapy, 24 Jan. 2023, www.bereact.com/pumpkins-proper-lifting-mechanics/.