4 Things I Learned from Goblins (At Goblin Valley)

For a little Spring Break adventure, my wife and I took our kids camping at Goblin Valley this last weekend.  I love Southern Utah, and I hadn’t been to Goblin Valley for a couple of decades… so it was about time.

We had some awesome experiences, and it was really fun to explore with my kids.  Here are the lessons I learned and how they relate to Physical Therapy! (Since that is what I do)

  1. The second night we were there it started raining at 2pm and rained until 11 pm. This was actually not too bad since our tent did really well in the rain.  The problem came at 2 am! The wind started to pick up, and our tent started to show its weaknesses.
    I woke up to the wall of the tent collapsed in and leaning over me.  One benefit was that I could see the amazing stars that night,,, because the window was blown open and was right in my face.  The downsides though outweighed that one benefit because the 30mph winds were blowing the rain water from off the tent, right into our faces.Turns out our tent is rated to hold up against 30mph winds, so we were at its limit.  For the next 2 hours, the tent was dancing in the wind, occasionally giving me views of the stars, and occasionally spritzing us with water.So, here’s the Physical Therapy Lesson:  Our bodies need the stability to withstand the forces that we put on them.  This means, if you are an ultramarathoner, the forces acting on your body are more than those acting on someone who likes to just golf on the weekends.  Because of this, your body needs more stability to withstand the forces you put on it.Make sure you are strengthening your body (specifically the areas you may have weakness) to withstand those forces so you don’t start to break down, or get spritzed in the face.
  2. Walking and hiking around the Hoodoos is always a fun time in Goblin Valley. No matter how old you are, there is just something about it that looks like a playground.  One of my patients yesterday said she loves that there are not as many “rules” or signs telling you to stay off.  Basically it invites everyone to just have fun and Play. Looking closer at the Hoodoos amazes me.  You have these huge boulders supported by softer sand.  Some of them look like they would tip over in the wind, but the more you look at them, the more you see how balanced they are.Physical Therapy Lesson:  Balance in posture is very important.  The boulder on top is like your head, and if that head is not centered over the neck and spine, then it is teedering precariously.  This makes the muscles have to jump in and keep the head upright, and results in tension in the muscles.Many of the conditions I treat are a result of poor posture, and the body fighting to keep everything in position when it is not balanced.  This is especially significant when I see my scoliosis patients.
  3. Saturday afternoon we had just got done with a hike in a slot canyon when the rain started. It began with a slight drizzle but ended up being a heavy rain for the rest of the day and into the night.Since we had just finished an 8 mile hike, and I had bribed my kids with ice cream, we took a drive to Hanksville, about 30 minutes away.  We got burgers and shakes and spent some time just hanging out.  I also paid the RV camp there so we could use their showers.  The break was definitely needed, and it was a great way to escape the rain.The Physical Therapy Lesson:   Sometimes you need to take a break.  Our lives are busy.  Some of us work and play really hard, and don’t give our bodies much of a break.  Others end up sitting at work and at home too much and don’t give their bodies a break from those postures.Recently, I have changed my exercise prescriptions for my patients from doing exercises every day, to doing them 4-5 times per week.  The break time is important for our bodies to heal and recover, as well as mentally to have a break.  It is okay to take breaks, and our bodies need them.
  4. One of my favorite hikes in Goblin Valley is Little Wild Horse. It is a slot canyon about 3.8 miles long with some beautiful and amazing views.  You can do a loop with doing Little Wild Horse and then coming down Bell Canyon, which makes an 8 mile hike.  My kids were rockstars on this hike and we did the whole thing in about 3.5 hours.As we came out of the canyon, it started to rain and it got heavier and heavier.  We were hiking out almost to the car, but we saw many people still in the canyon, and even some starting their hike.For those who have never been to a slot canyon, the biggest danger in a slot canyon is flash flooding.  This can happen even if the rain is happening miles away, so when we saw people going in while it was raining so hard, it made me nervous.We came back from Hanksville and stopped at the trail head to use the bathrooms to find 5 college students coming out of the canyon.  They were soaked in their T-shirts and shorts, and the temperature had dropped into the low 50’s.  When I asked them if there was water in the canyon they said “Yeah! It was Awesome!”.   Luckily nothing happened to them, but it could have ended much worse.Physical Therapy Lesson:  Preparation is key to injury prevention.  Preparing for your activities can help your body adapt and function optimally in those situations.  If you are going backpacking, make sure you do some shorter hikes in preparation.  If running an Ironman Triathlon, you definitely need to be very specific and careful in your preparation.

If you haven’t been to Goblin Valley, I would highly recommend it.  Right now is a great time to go and it is only 3 hours away from Lehi.  My kids loved it and had a blast.   If you want any ideas on good things to do there, shoot me an email at david@utahphysicaltherapy.com.

Stay active and have fun out there!  If you want any help with reducing pain and increasing your activity level without the use of pills, surgery, or expensive imaging, give me a call or send me an email.

David Butler, Physical Therapist