Gardening can be a great way to keep fit and relax. However, it can also be very difficult on the back if proper techniques are not used. In this video, Dr. Maja (Chiropractor in Burlington and co-owner of Edgar Family Chiropractic) gives some simple tips on how to keep your back healthy while gardening.
Keep the following tips in mind:
- Always warm-up. This can be a brisk walk or run around the neighbourhood, it can be some light exercises in the backyard (like jumping jacks) or some yoga stretching. This will ensure blood flow to the muscles and will prepare the muscles for work.
- Bring lots of water. Hydrating muscles is very important as dehydrated muscles can be susceptible to injury.
- Take lots of breaks. This will ensure that you are not overloading the soft tissues such as muscles and ligaments. When muscles and ligaments are over-stretched due to being in one position for too long, they can more easily sprain or tear.
- Break up your loads that you are carrying. Instead of carrying heavy bags of soil, break it up into smaller loads by using buckets.
- Use protective equipment like knee pads or a stool to help you so that you are not bent over for long periods of time.
- Breathe. It is important to keep breathing so that your lungs and muscles are getting adequate oxygen.
- Vary your tasks. This is a great way to avoid using one muscle group for too long. You can try digging for a while, then weeding for a bit, and then trimming the hedges or trees. This will ensure you are bent at times but also standing straight at other times.
- Listen to your body. If you start to feel soreness, it is a good idea to stop and rest for 24 hours to see how you feel after a period of rest. It is also important to remember that sometimes soreness does not come until the next day, so pacing yourself is very important.
Some of the most common injuries with gardening are low back sprain/strain and sciatic pain. Patients often come to their chiropractor with a very high level of pain and discomfort and an inability to move and function. They may also have leg pain/sciatic pain. Sciatic pain is usually as a result of pressure on the sciatic nerve from inflammation around the nerve (due to an inflamed or herniated disc). The key is to reduce inflammation as quickly as possible so that the nerve can being to function properly once again.
Drs. Maja and Cameron are chiropractors and clinic owners in downtown Burlington. They work with a great team of physiotherapists and massage therapists and often see patients after gardening injuries in the springtime and early summer. They are able to assess the injury and properly treat the root cause of it. The treatment usually involves muscles therapy, joint mobilizations, exercise prescription and advice on how to avoid further injury.