When we reach the month of May, the temperatures start rising, and we know that summer is just around the corner. For many, this is the perfect time of year to clean up the flower beds and prep for the long, hot days on the patio. As gardening season commences, take care to reduce your risk of back and neck pain. Here’s how.
Stretch Your Gardening Muscles
Stop and think for a minute: what muscles in your body are you working when gardening? Gardening is a full-body workout! The back, upper legs, shoulders and wrists are all activated during a day spent in the garden. To prepare your muscles, plan for a warm-up before getting to work. First, start with a dynamic workout of running in place, lunging and sidestepping. After these exercises, your muscles will be warm and less likely to tighten up on you. After the dynamic exercises, try these:
- Sit down and then stretch one leg out in front of you, either on a step or on the ground. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in the hamstring. Hold for 15 seconds and then switch to the other leg.
- While standing, grab your ankle from behind. Pull your heel toward your glutes to feel a stretch in the quadriceps. Hold for 15 seconds and then switch to the other leg. If you need help balancing on one leg, feel free to grab onto a chair or tree or banister – whatever is handy!
- While standing, put your hands above your head and link them together with the palms up. Slowly lean over to one side. Hold for 10 seconds and then lean to the other side for another 10 seconds. Repeat three times.
- Wrap yourself in a hug. Twist to one side. Hold for 10 seconds and then twist to the other side for another 10 seconds. Switch which arm is on top and then repeat.
When stretching, don’t bounce or jerk your body. Only stretch as far as feels comfortable. If you feel any pain, back off the stretch.
Be Aware of Your Body
As you tend your gardens, be aware of your body. Don’t stay in the same stance for long periods of time. Instead, switch up your movements to keep each side of the body balanced. Additionally, take care to kneel down when necessary rather than bending over. Too long spent bending over to pull weeds can lead to back pain. Remember to lift bags of mulch and soil from the legs, not the back. Doing so will help to ensure your body stays pain-free throughout the day.
Cooling down your body is just as important as warming it up, especially after a day spent bending, twisting, reaching and pulling. Take five minutes to repeat the static stretches from the warm-up. After your workout in the gardens all day, stretching will loosen the muscles and clear out lactic acid build up. Once that’s complete, you’re free to kick back and relax in a cushy patio chair, surveying your accomplishments of the day!
What if I Start Feeling Pain?
If you’re starting to feel muscle aches and pain, start by applying a cold pack for the first 48 hours. After that, apply a heat pack. Then, give Van Ness Chiropractic a call. Drs. Van Ness, Parkin and Sabri practice a customized, hands-on approach to chiropractic care. By visiting Van Ness Chiropractic, you’ll soon be out of pain – and without the use of pain relievers. Learn more about what to expect at Van Ness Chiropractic here. To make an appointment, click here or call 847-842-8070.