Chiropractic Tips For The Seasonal Gardener

It’s Spring, the season that reminds us of renewal, and everywhere you look there is new life. For those who love to garden, the fresh green sprouts bursting up from the soil is as exciting as opening a gift. It’s exciting to get out and start planting and prepping for a new growing season.  Along with spring comes a surge of patients that have hurt themselves doing the things that come along with the season. Gardening can provide a great workout, but with all the bending, twisting, reaching and pulling, your body may not be ready for exercise of the garden variety!

So here are some tips to avoid spring injuries:

Planning – Taking time to decide what looks good in your landscape design versus buying whatever you see first at the nursery is good for the pocket book, but here is how to use it for protection from aching back and muscles. Consider spreading the project out, planning how you will limit or rotate your activities. It is better to rotate the tasks: a little digging, a little planting, rest, stretch, then digging, mowing cutting, pruning and so on. The variety is great for taking the stress off one area.

Warm up –  Getting the muscles warmed up before jumping into a full day of bending, lifting, and gardening is the best way to start a project. Athletes don’t go into an event unprepared. They would never run a race cold or lift a weight without good technique, and we’re athletes in this setting. Do not bounce or jerk your body, and stretch as far as you comfortably can. Do not follow the “no pain, no gain” rule. Stretching should not be painful. Performing simple stretches during planned break periods will help alleviate injuries, pain and stiffness.

Technique – Be aware of your body technique, form, and posture while gardening. Kneel, don’t bend, and alternate your stance frequently. While sitting, prop your heel on a stool or step, keep the knee straight if possible. Begin to lean forward until you feel a stretch in the back of the thigh, or the hamstring muscle. Hold this position for 15 seconds then switch. Do this once more and repeat with the other leg. Alternate this stretch off and on through work periods. The hamstring can cause a lot of lower back complaints by pulling on the pelvis and knees as well. This pressure can create uneven gait and worsen the problem. Trigger points and muscle knots can develop from exactly this type of situation. Another stretch that helps: while standing, weave your fingers together above your head with the palms up. Lean to one side for 10 seconds, then to the other. This is great for upper back and shoulders as well as lower back.

Follow up – If you already feel muscle aches and pains and did not do any stretches, there are ways to alleviate the discomfort. Apply an ice pack to the area of pain (20 min. on/20 min. off).  Ice reduces swelling and acts like an anesthetic to reduce pain over the area.  Massage is also a great follow up for overused muscles.  Massage assists in moving lactic acid out of the muscle tissues and into the bloodstream to be swept away naturally.  This is enhanced by drinking water, which additionally hydrates muscles to support them working properly.  Chiropractic care can help both before and after your activities. Like massage, getting a Chiropractic adjustment can help your body be more flexible so less injury can occur. Well known for decreasing recovery time in low back pain cases, Chiropractors everywhere know how to get you back “in the game” of gardening faster than anyone.

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