• Dr. Nicole Knapp

Seven Chiropractic Tips for Gardening

Now that spring has arrived, it is time to start tending to the yard and gardens again. Mowing the grass, planting flowers, pulling weeds, pruning your shrubs, and spreading mulch are all upcoming chores. This spring season focus on pulling your weeds, not your back!

Tending to your garden or yard requires various muscles throughout the body – the fingers, wrists, arms, shoulders, legs, and back. Even though gardening is great exercise, the bending, twisting, reaching, lifting, and pulling can take a toll on your body.

Here a few tips to help you enjoy gardening, minimize pain, and minimize the risk of an injury:

  1. Warm Up: Before getting into a project, do a dynamic warm up to get your blood flowing and muscles ready for physical activity. High knees, lunges, or a light jog are great ways to prepare your body for the physical activity.

  2. Lift Properly: To avoid common sprains and strains of the lower back, don’t bend over to lift an object from a standing position. Instead spread your feet shoulder-width apart, squat as close to the object as possible by bending at the hips and knees, maintain good posture as your lift the object upwards, lift slowly, and keep the object close to your body. Always bend with your knees not your back!

  3. Maintain Good Posture: When gardening, it is easy to forget about your posture and to spend too much time looking downwards. Instead, maintain good posture by looking straight ahead, keeping your back straight, shoulder back, and chest out. If you are planting in containers, simply plant on a table so that you can look straight ahead rather than looking downwards.

  4. Minimize Bending: Many of us have the bad habit of bending over to pull the weeds or twisting our backs to plant the flowers. Instead of bending over, get on the same level by sitting on a stool or kneeling on garden pads.

  5. Don’t Strain Yourself: Instead of over-exerting yourself, only lift what you can. For heavier objects, ask family or friends for help or use an appropriate tool. Carts and wheelbarrows should be used to transport those heavy bags of soil.

  6. Take Breaks: Always remember to breathe deeply and to keep yourself hydrated. By extending your abdomen and breathing deeply, you nourish your muscles with oxygen and improve circulation. Furthermore, breaks give your joints and muscles a chance to rest. By taking several breaks and not overdoing it, you can reduce potential pain, aches, and stiffness.

  7. Stretch Afterwards: After wrapping up the gardening, do a few static stretches to loosen your muscles. Stretch your legs, backs, and arms and hold the stretch for 30 seconds.

These seven tips can help you make gardening more enjoyable while minimizing the pain and risk for injury. If you still feel sore afterwards, remember to apply ice to the areas of soreness for the first 48 hours and then heat for the following 48 hours.

If something goes wrong and you accidentally strain your back, give us a call and make an appointment. The sooner you get an adjustment and realign your muscles, the sooner you will be back to feeling better. The sooner the healing process begins, the better!

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