Article of the month: pain free gardening!

The opening of gardening centers is keeping gardeners on their toes; you know, those people who just can’t wait for the snow to melt to clean up their flowerbeds. However, their enthusiasm can be abruptly shattered by lower back injuries, ligament pain and muscular tension if there is too much rushing into the task at hand. Warming up and stretching are essential to gardening season free of mishaps!

Gardening, a risky sport?

More than a simple hobby, gardening is a sport. Digging, picking up heavy plants, raking, bending down; this is what we call exercise! Depending on the intensity of the effort, you can burn up to 300 calories per hour while gardening. Also, this is an activity often done close to the ground. This crouched position during a few hours is an unusual effort for the joints of the legs and lower back. The arms can also suffer the abuse of the repetitive use of the muscles, tendons and ligaments. The good news is that it is possible to prevent most of these musculo skeletal injuries associated with gardening.

BEFORE, getting prepared

Before attacking the task, prepare your joints, muscles and back. Who hasn’t woken up, the day after some intense gardening, to discover some painful muscle whose existence was until then unknown? Before you start, it is important to get warmed up. Gardening will increase the demand on your cardiovascular system and will put your joints trough some amplified motions, which can put them at risk. A brisk walk or some jumping jacks will up the temperature in your muscles, tendons and joints and prepare the body for the upcoming effort.

WHILE gardening

Alter your activites frequently; go from heavy to light, or from on your knees to standing, or from one side to other. Regular changes will prevent solicitating the same structures for too long. As often as you can, change the position of your hands to reduce the tension. Get on your knees instead of bending over. It is easier on your spine. Use a foam pad to protect your knees. Always bend your knees to pick up a heavy weight. Hold it as close as you can to your body and pivot your feet instead of twisting your spine. Avoid transporting a heavy load right after having spent some time in a crouched position. Keep your back straight, and if you start feeling tired, take a break and drink lots of water. Hydrated muscles and joints have a higher adaptive capacity! Use a wheelbarrow to move plants or soil on a flat surface. To avoid injuries caused by a shift in weight, choose a wheelbarrow on 2 wheels. Divide a large charge into small ones instead of risking an injury.

AFTER, so it can all be worth it!

If warming up is important beforehand, it is just as recommended to stretch at the end of the day. The muscles and tendons need some flexibility. Proper stretching techniques will contribute to increasing and maintaining an adequate level of elasticity. This is just as important as strength and endurance in muscle health. Stretching will also prevent injuries causing muscle elongations and tendonitis.

Chiropractic to the rescue

Are you still suffering despite these precautions? Any pain lasting more than 48 hours is a signal meaning you need some support. Your doctor of chiropractic can diagnose and treat a problem of the spine as well as any neurologic, articular or muscular symptoms. As well as relieving your pain, a chiropractor can give you indications on how to correct the posture and movement that might of brought on the problem. The goal is to be able to garden problem free all summer!