Spring is here, the weather is warming up, sprouts are springing forth, and for some of you, that means that it is time to go play in the dirt. There is no question that springtime is a time to get the yard and garden ready to go and this can also mean the start of some aches and pains that come with kneeling on the ground and raking mulch or running all the equipment that has been packed away all winter as you help all your green friends recover from the (milder than normal) winter. Here are some tips to keep you from needing some recovery as well.
The work you are setting out to do is going to be fun but remember to get ready to do it. Like any other workouts it is important to include warm up and cool down periods. Preparing your body for these activities is important especially if you haven’t been doing these motions for awhile. It is also a good idea to add variety to your activities, and remember to take it easy.
Yard and Garden Fitness Stretches:
- Breathing deeply and rhythmically, and being comfortable are the basics to remember while doing any stretches. You should feel no pain as you do your stretches.
- While standing with one foot on a step or a bench, gently bend forward until you can feel a gentle stretch in the back of your thigh and hold for 15 seconds. Do this two times and repeat on the other side.
- Stand up and balance yourself by holding a wall or other stable surface if needed. Bend one knee and grab your ankle with the hand on that same side. Pull your heel toward your buttocks and hold this position for 20 seconds to stretch your quadriceps muscle on the front of your thigh. Do this two times and repeat on the other side.
- While standing, weave your fingers together with your palms up and lean to one side for 10 seconds. This should stretch the side of your upper body, then reverse to stretch the other side. Repeat this stretch 2 to 3 times.
- “Hug your best friend” next by wrapping your arms around yourself after letting your breath out and rotate to one side. Stretch as far as you can comfortably go and hold for 10 seconds before you reverse. Repeat this fun little number 2 to 3 times.
There are other things to keep in mind as you go through your yard and garden workout:
- Use good posture and body mechanics:
- Kneel rather than bending at the waist while working in the garden.
- Stand up as straight as possible and keep your head up as you mow and rake.
- Bend at the knees, not the waist, as you pick up piles of leaves and grass.
- Switch sides or positions as you work, especially if you are doing lots of repetitive motions.
- Continue to stretch as you work and take frequent breaks.
- Avoid the heat, when it is warm outside, try to do most of your work in the cooler mornings or evening if possible.
- Drink lots of water, remember, this is a workout too.
- You can bend and you can twist but try to avoid activities where you have to both bend and twist at the same time.
- Make small piles of leaves or garden scraps to avoid the possibility of back strain.
- Consider electric power tools and equipment as they are often much lighter than their engine powered brethren.
- When using the mower, use your whole body weight to push the mower rather than just your arms and back.
After a satisfying day giving your green thumb a thorough workout you may feel some aches and pains despite your best efforts with warm up and cool down stretches. There are some ways to alleviate some of the discomfort by applying a cold pack to any sore areas for the first 48 hours and a heat pack after 48 hours. Consider chiropractic care if there is no improvement after 2 to 3 days.
Be safe. Be well. Be green.
Yours in health,
Dr. Kevin Leveille DC