Prepare for Gardening

Stretch your muscles before reaching for your gardening tools. The back, upper legs, shoulders, and wrists are all major muscle groups affected when using your green thumb. Treat gardening as an athletic event. A warm-up and cool down period is as important in gardening as it is for any other physical activity. To warm up, walk for five to ten minutes to get your heart rate up.

Perform Stretches

Before stretching for any activity, breathe in and out, slowly and rhythmically; do not bounce or jerk your body, and stretch as far and as comfortably as you can. Do not follow the “no pain, no gain” rule. Stretching should not be painful. While sitting, prop your heel on a stool or step, keeping the knees straight. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in the back of the thigh, or the hamstring muscle. Hold this position for 15 seconds. Do this once more and repeat with the other leg. Stand up, balance yourself, and grab the front of your ankles from behind. Pull your heel toward your buttocks and hold the position for 15 seconds. Do this again and repeat with the other leg. While standing, weave your fingers together above your head with the palms up. Lean to one side for 10 seconds, then to the other. Repeat this stretch three times. Do the “Hug your best friend” exercise. Wrap your arms around yourself and rotate to one side, stretching as far as you can comfortably go. Hold for 10 seconds and reverse. Repeat two or three times. Be aware of your body technique, form and posture while gardening. Kneel, don’t bend, and alternate your stance and movements frequently.

Remember Gardening Ergonomics

Use tools, such as shears or clippers with a spring action, self-opening feature, to prevent strain on the muscles and joints. Make sure the tools are well-oiled to open and close easily. When lifting potted plants or bags of mulch and dirt, keep them as close to your body as possible, bend your knees and lift straight up, keeping your back as straight as possible. Use your knees, rather than the back muscles, to lift, and avoid twisting and turning while lifting. Sit while working or take sitting breaks to conserve energy and decrease stress on your back, knees and hips.

Don’t Ignore the Pain

If you already feel muscle aches and pains and did not complete the warm-up and cool-down stretches, there are ways to alleviate the discomfort. Apply a cold pack on the area of pain for the first 48 hours and consider chiropractic care. Spinal manipulation can help alleviate the pain due to overuse injuries and improper gardening techniques. The goal of a doctor of chiropractic is to manipulate the spine and help stimulate the body’s natural healing process.

Please consult your doctor of Chiropractic if you have further questions.

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