Prepare for the hiking season with an occupational therapist

HOT SPRINGS, SD — We could all use the help of an occupational therapist once in a while. While physical therapists help you recover from a lower extremity injury or surgery, occupational therapists focus on helping you participate in daily activities, from getting dressed to playing tennis. With such a range of services, it’s no wonder occupational therapists are in greater demand than ever, with job growth increasing year on year.

According to Summer Miller, occupational therapist at Fall River Health Services, the service can help people of all ages. They help children with gross or fine motor skills, such as handwriting. They also help seniors maintain their independence, providing therapy so they can shower, cook and work on their own. Plus, they help everyday people with incontinence, especially those who have trouble jumping or sneezing, as well as golfers or swimmers who injure themselves while doing repetitive motions.

As we move into the warmer seasons, occupational therapists like Miller may see an increase in new patients with issues related to outdoor activities. For hiking, in particular, Miller notes the importance of warming up to protect against injury. A warm-up should be dynamic and include the movements you will be doing while hiking. Since much of the hike is over uneven terrain, it is important to warm up the ankles and work on ankle stability to protect yourself when navigating difficult terrain.

Of course, having the proper equipment and equipment is also essential.

“Make sure you have a nice sturdy pair of shoes that provide good ankle support.”

Choosing the right pair depends on your own level of ankle strength, but generally higher pairs offer more support. Miller also says to bring plenty of water and let others know when and where you are going.

Miller points out given your physical ability:

“If this is your first outing of the year, you might want to make it a shorter hike. Once you’ve built up the stamina to do a longer hike, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to complete it. A one-mile hike is very different from a mile of walking on a flatter surface.

It’s also important to be aware of your surroundings, especially since you’ll likely be hiking in wild areas. For example, Miller treated people after being bitten by a snake. Although not very common and usually not fatal, they may require occupational therapy.

“There is a lot of weakness and instability that comes after. People tend to lose a lot of stamina because it’s quite a traumatic event. We’re really working to restore that tolerance for activity and the ability to do more at once.

For women who have given birth, another concern during this season could be incontinence. As Miller notes, many women find it difficult to go out for long periods of time because they don’t know if there will be a bathroom nearby. They cannot walk, run, jump or play with their children. Sometimes they struggle to mount without worrying about leaks.

If this sounds familiar, Miller can help.

“I do a lot of pelvic floor therapy – it’s an area I work on a lot and I find it very rewarding. We can help stop these leaks from happening so people can regain that confidence to do what they love to do outside.

Of course, outdoor activities are only one reason for occupational therapy. It may be time to turn to therapy services when you notice that the tasks are more difficult than before. According to Miller,

“If you lack the strength or stability to carry out your daily activities or hobbies, I recommend that you start seeking therapy services.”

For more information about Fall River Health Services and their occupational therapy program, visit their website at or call (605) 745-8910.

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