Spring – what a beautiful time of year! The blossoming flowers and new leaves on the trees will hopefully put the spring back in your step. For gardeners, spring is a great time to welcome life back to the yard. Gardening, often thought of as a leisurely activity, is actually considered a physical activity requiring a warm-up, cool down, and plenty of fluids. Without taking these measures you may cause your body extra stress and maybe even an injury.
Each spring, at our chiropractic clinic, we see some injuries related to gardening. Here are a few tips followed by a few stretches that will hopefully help you to avoid these injuries:
1. Do the scissors stance while raking: Stand with your right leg forward and your left leg back while you rake. Switch which leg is in front every few minutes. This will keep you from bending and twisting your way into a sore back.
2. Change hands frequently: Changing hands when raking & hoeing prevents muscle strain on one side of the body. Try to stand as straight as possible with your head upright.
3. Use long-handled tools: Long-handled tools let you avoid bending forward and sideways as you work, which can cause you to strain your neck or lower back.
4. Lift properly: Face the object you plan to lift, bend your knees, and draw the load close to your body. Use the muscle power of your legs to lift. Don’t lift heavy objects above your waist. Ask for help moving big flowerpots and bags of soil or garden waste.
5. Kneel to weed and plant: Constant bending and squatting can put a strain on your back, neck, and leg muscles. You can buy special knee pads and mats that make kneeling on the ground more comfortable.
6. Take frequent breaks: taking breaks to stretch and rehydrate is very important for keeping your body in peak condition and will ensure your muscles don’t fatigue as quickly.
Stretches to Try:
- Sit on a chair and slowly bend your body forward from your hips, putting your head down and resting your hands on the ground
- Lye on the ground put your hands under your knee, pull your leg into your chest leaving your other leg straight on the ground
- Intertwine your fingers and flip hands so your palms are facing outwards in front of you, straighten arms, and round your shoulders
- While standing hold your hands behind your back, bend forward at the waist, and lift your arms as far as possible
- Hold elbow of your opposite arm and push arm straight across the front of your body
- While holding the elbow of your opposite arm put your arm behind your head with your hand in the middle of your back and push lightly
- While standing straight and facing forward bend your knee and grab your ankle with your hand, pull your leg back and bring your foot to your behind if possible, keep your knees as close together as possible
- Using a chair or a wall outstretch your arms and push your body back into a lunge, keeping your back leg straight
If you experience an injury while gardening, we always encourage our patients to take a break from the activity until the pain has been managed. It is also a good idea to check in with your local Burlington chiropractor, Burlington massage therapist, or Burlington physiotherapist if your pain does not go away. They will be able to properly assess and treat you for the injury so that you can get back to gardening as soon as possible!