Being situated in Central Alberta has allowed our therapists to have a keen understanding of the rural lifestyle and everything comes along with it. From Farmers and Ranchers to Cowboys and Cowgirls, there are many injuries that can come with this lifestyle.
Living the rural lifestyle requires the whole body to be in the best shape possible. Whether it be driving a tractor or combine, shovelling dirt and hay or riding horses, the whole body can take a beating day to day. Some of the most common issues we see in the clinic are around the neck, back and knees.
Here are some ideas on how to ensure that your body stays in tip-top shape & avoid rural injuries so you can live your fullest life in the country.
Neck- we see these issues the majority of time around seeding and harvest time when there is a lot of tractor driving. So during these times it is important to try to ensure you are not staying in a static position all day. Keeping ‘good posture’ can be a challenge but it is important to ensure you are not stagnant and are able to move around throughout the day. This may entail turning your head another direction to counteract constantly looking 1 way, or it may mean taking breaks from being in the tractor as you are able to. The same issues arise if you are a cowboy/girl travelling to many different rodeos all over the country. Try to take breaks and move your body more often and stretch the neck throughout the day as well.
Back- Rural injuries tend to pop up with repetitive movements, like shovelling, raking or digging. We all tend to favour a certain direction of using the shovel, but it is best to try and switch up the positions to use both sides of the body. This can alleviate the overuse of one side or the other. Lots of driving can also affect the back, so the same recommendations as above for the neck, hold true for the back as well. Horseback riding involves a lot of core strength to stay on the horse properly and sit in a good position. If your core isn’t as strong as it should be, then you tend to injure the back muscles for support, which leads to soreness in the low back as well.
Knees- any job that is labour intensive can cause injuries to the knees, typically overuse, but also acute rural injuries do occur. Chasing after animals on a farm or ranch on uneven ground can cause the knees to be twisted and strained in ways that they aren’t used to. Getting hit or kicked by an animal or twisting the knee can cause a sprain or tear to the ligaments that support the knee. If you feel this has happened, the best is to get yourself assessed by a medical professional to determine the extent of the damage. Your work can also lead to overuse injuries in the knees that can cause pain around the kneecaps, called patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS). PFPS is pain around the kneecap and typically is caused by biomechanical movement deficiencies. Specific stretching and strengthening to ensure the body is moving properly when walking, running, squatting, etc is the best way to alleviate these issues. Stretching the quad muscles (front of thigh) is usually a good place to start.
With all of the above rural injuries and aches and pains, it is always a good idea to get an assessment from a qualified health professional (Athletic Therapist, Physiotherapy, Massage Therapist, Chiropractor, etc.) to ensure your body is moving as fluidly & efficiently as possible.
Our Team Can Help you Get on Track. If you would like some advice just give us a call.