Spring is in the air!
Spring is finally here, which means a lot of us will be spending increasing amounts of time out in the garden over the next few months. That’s good news, since an April 2014 Growing Health study found that gardening can improve a WIDE variety of health problems related to everything from obesity, inactivity, and old age to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s also a great activity for those struggling to cope with other serious health problems, like cancer.
Since it’s physically active, it’s also full of health benefits! But all those hours knee deep in dirt and pulling weeds can be physically demanding, especially if you only break out the gardening gloves once a year.
GARDENING LIKE A PRO…
Before you head outside this weekend, here are a few tips for preventing sore muscles and injuries, so that one day in the garden doesn’t leave you out of commission for the rest of the spring:
- Loosen Up. Warm up the same way you would for any other physical activity. Take a short walk and stretch your muscles, incorporating moves that involve bending, reaching out in front of you, and loosening your legs and core. If you don’t feel like walking around the block, take a few laps around your yard, picking up twigs and sticks and the like that are lying around.
- Protect Your Elbows. Digging, pruning, and weeding can cause elbow pain, so in addition to using the right tools, it’s important to stretch your arm muscles afterwards. For a quick elbow and wrist stretch, try this easy stretch! Bend your hand and wrist toward the inside of your forearm while holding your elbow completely straight. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then repeat three more times.
- Take A Seat. Weeding, digging, and planting can involve a LOT of bending over, which can cause back pain, hip pain, and knee pain. Avoid spending more than 20 minutes at a time kneeling or squatting. Instead, try sitting on a bucket or stool and stand up every now and then to take pressure off your knees.
- Maintain Good Mechanics. Keep your shoulders back and down at all times, don’t let them roll forward and up towards your ears. That’ll keep you from straining your shoulders and upper back! When pulling weeds, bend at the hips instead of hunching your back. When heavy lifting is involved, bend your knees and use your legs, not your back. Using the right tools for the job will also help to keep your posture correct.
- Cool Down. You warmed up, so make sure you cool down, too. Take a short walk and do some basic stretches to prevent soreness from building. If you’re feeling soreness, pain or inflammation, ice those areas for 15-20 minutes so it doesn’t get worse.
LET US HELP WITH THE PESKY PAINS…
These tips should have you gardening the spring away without aches and pains! If you do notice soreness or pain that doesn’t go away after a few days, give us a call. Keeping the garden alive, however, is a totally different story – we unfortunately can’t help with the green thumb thing. To book a free consultation with one of PPTS’s musculoskeletal experts, click here.