Tis the Season for Planting Flowers, Hauling Dirt, and general Yard Work. Around this time of year, many individuals with green thumbs are reviving their gardens, getting ready for summer. However, gardening has a habit of taking its toll on the body.
Personal Note: Most of the injuries I see in the late Spring involve the Lower Back, Knees, Hands, Neck and Shoulders. All of these injuries can be avoided with proper body mechanics.
The British Chiropractic Association made a wonderful video for gardening that involves postures for :
- Pruning Trees and Bushes
- Working on a Ladder
- Laying Down Stone
- Moving Compost or Dirt
Personal Note: As for Shoveling, check out my old article about Shoveling Snow:
The Body Mechanics are the same.
“I’m really sore from working outside. What do I do?”
First, stop working for a little while. Take a break and drink some water.
Is the soreness from improper posture? Is it from a prior lack of exercise? Are you dehydrated?
- Drink Water- This is the number one secret to gardening. Gardening should really be considered a sport, considering all the squats, kneeling and lifting the activity entails. However, just like in sports, drinking water is essential. If you’re feeling a little lightheaded and water isn’t quite doing the trick, try a fluid with electrolytes.
- Stretch Lightly– Don’t over stretch, but stretch enough to correct your posture. Bring your shoulders back to neutral, stand straight, make sure your toes are facing forward when you walk. Take a half hour break if you start to ache. Use heat for ten minutes if the soreness remains.
- Get Help- Don’t garden alone. Mulch, stones, and piled leaves have a large amount of weight (of course), but having a friend to help can take half the stress off your body. Another advantage to having an extra pair of eyes around is to make sure you take breaks and drink water when you need to. The mind forgets the body when it’s working.
- Go see a Chiroprator or Massage Therapist for injuries– Both Chiropractors and LMTs can get people back on their feet quickly. If you feel you mave you injured yourself, go see a specialist.
Personal Note: I had a client come in with Lower Back Spasms from lifting garden stones. They had improperly lifted the weight with their back instead of their legs. After the session, I showed them the proper way to lift. Later, they called back, thanking me for the help and the recommendation. They were able to complete their stone pathway without too much trouble after that session.
Happy National Gardening Week!