Spring is springing — keep these health tips in mind

photo by: Shuttestock Photos

Spring! Oh, glorious spring!

It officially arrives on Wednesday. Because winter weather finally is in our rearview mirrors, it’s time to turn our thoughts to warmer, sunnier weather. So we’ve checked in with three members of the LMH Health family for some advice about getting more mobile, as well as taking care of our leg and skin health.

Skin health

Long days outside are just around the corner, which means much more sun exposure. Skyelar King, a registered nurse with Plastic Surgery Specialists of Lawrence, 1130 W. Fourth St., explained the importance of sun protection and how to safely enjoy time outdoors without getting a painful burn.

Most of us know about the importance of wearing SPF (sun protection factor) sunscreen to protect our skin from the sun’s harsh rays. King gave us the backstory for wearing sunscreen.

photo by: LMH Health/Contributed Photo

Skyelar King

“The sun’s UVA and UVB rays are what cause sunburn,” King said. “A sunburn is essentially damage to the skin cells, so that’s why protection against these rays is very important.”

Wearing at least level 30 SPF when you’ll be out in the sun is the general recommendation. Because UVA and UVB rays cause sun damage, it is recommended that you choose a sunscreen that protects against both.

King also notes that although spray sunscreen is convenient, sunscreen lotion is much more effective.

“Spray sunscreen stays on the surface level of your skin,” King said. “The lotion has time to blend into your skin. It not only lasts a little longer, but it gives you much better protection.”

No matter what type you use, be sure to reapply sunscreen. You cannot put it on once and tell yourself you’re protected for the rest of the day. Make sure you apply sunscreen to dry skin. If it’s applied to wet skin, it will slide right off.

Intense sun exposure is not limited to direct sunlight. Burns can happen even if your day is spent in a car. Make sure you don’t forget to apply sunscreen before heading on your journey on long road trips this summer. Even though skin damage when riding in a car would be less intense than if you were outdoors, it still can happen. Pay particular attention to your face and hands, which are exposed the most.

“The three most common places for skin cancer are the scalp, face and hands,” King said. “It is important to check yourself periodically for oddities that may have been caused by sun damage.”

When doing a self-check, look for new or growing moles, and remember to use this “A-B-C-D-E” guide to help you decide whether you need to see a physician:

• Asymmetry: if one half of a mole differs from the other

• Border: irregular perimeter of a mole

• Color: if the mole varies from one area to the other

• Diameter: if the mole grows larger than a quarter of an inch

• Evolving: watching all aspects of a mole and seeing if it is rapidly changing in size, color or shape

“Whenever you get a tan, there has been some type of damage done to the skin,” King said. “Even when you’ve put on sunscreen and you get a tan, your skin is still at risk for skin cancer. Wearing a hat and even sun protective clothing can help you avoid burns as well.”

A spring in your step

The time has finally come for long outdoor walks, gardening and spring athletic events. We have been cooped up inside all winter and now that the snow has melted and the sun is out, we can look forward to tending to our yards, watering our flowers, running around parks and playing outdoor sports.

Joe DeLeo, LMH Health strength and conditioning specialist, works at the LMH Health Performance and Wellness Center, helping clients from all walks of life. At the center, which is at Sports Pavilion Lawrence, DeLeo works with student athletes who are in middle and high school and with clients who are in their 80s. So we asked him about preparing for more physical activity.

photo by: LMH Health/Contributed Photo

Joe DeLeo

After a winter of reduced activity, he recommends the goblet squat. This squat is an important exercise to improve ankle and hip mobility. Additionally, it helps open your hips, so when you’re gardening or doing yard work you can be in a position where there is less stress on your back.

“Hip mobility is very important,” DeLeo said. “Emphasizing movement from the hips can help spare your spine.”

Another series of core stability exercises DeLeo recommends for preventing back pain are the McGill Big Three exercises. These movements, which have been proven to alleviate back pain, are important to have in mind when you head out to your yard this spring to begin spring cleaning adventures.

But student-athletes may be more focused on sports and conditioning this spring.

“If you have been inactive for several weeks and are returning to a spring sport, be sure to give your body time to adjust to moving continuously for prolonged periods,” DeLeo said. “If you’re an athlete who is moving from winter to spring, it is important to make sure you give your body time to transition. Running one to two times a week can help acclimate your body to being back on its feet as well as transitioning to different surfaces, such as from turf and hardwood to the track and grass field.”

Coming out of winter and returning to workouts each day can be hard on your body if you are not preparing it properly.

“Pushing your hardest all at once can result in potential injuries,” DeLeo said. “You should increase your volume and intensity intelligently and gradually over the course of a couple weeks to prepare your mind and body appropriately.”

For a video illustrating the goblet squat, visit bit.ly/2gGPsFh, and for a video illustrating McGill Big Three exercises, visit bit.ly/1AkN32I.

Love your legs

It is almost time to pack away the long pants and sweaters and bring out the swimsuits and shorts. This spring, if you are having worries about your legs, have a special event to attend or you just want more confidence showing your legs, Dr. Dale Denning is your go-to guy.

photo by: LMH Health/Contributed Photo

Dr. Dale Denning

Between 20 million and 25 million Americans have varicose veins. Symptoms of varicose veins can be heaviness, itching, burning, aching, swelling and tiredness.

“Some people deal with these symptoms for so long they don’t realize it could be varicose veins,” said Denning, of Lawrence Vein Center, 1112 W. Sixth St.

It is important not to discount these symptoms. The appearance of varicose veins and the discomfort they cause can be treated with sclerotherapy and endovenous laser treatment (EVLT). Sclerotherapy is the injection of a chemical into your veins that causes them to close. EVLT uses a laser fiber to close the larger surface veins. This procedure, though quick and fairly easy, does not take effect overnight.

“What I like to say is you cannot take an eraser to the whiteboard,” Denning said. “Once the procedure is done, it will take up to three months for the veins to completely disappear. So, think ahead if there is a special event you’re planning the procedure around.”

When you begin outdoor activities and sports again, it is important to keep vein health in mind, especially if you enjoy running, biking or walking. For anyone beginning spring sports, Denning recommends wearing compression stockings for support and extra comfort.

“We cannot cure varicose veins,” Denning said. “So we have to treat what is abnormal now and adopt healthy lifestyles to slow recurrence. This includes exercise, maintaining an ideal body weight and using compression stockings.”

— Jessica Brewer is an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at LMH Health, which is a major sponsor of the Lawrence Journal-World’s Health section. She can be reached at jessica.brewer@lmh.org.

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