Gardening and Your Back

It’s that time of year again! The snow has melted, the frost is gone. Time to get outside and start cleaning up, but be careful. Raking, lifting, digging, kneeling, planting – this is enough activity to challenge any athlete. Gardening and yard work may not be Olympic sports, but they are strenuous physical activities. In a recent poll, 88 per cent of Ontario chiropractors indicated that working in the garden and yard were the most common sources of neck and back pain they treat during the warm weather season.

To help you enjoy the fruits of your labour during this yard and gardening season, we recommend you keep these tips in mind:

Stretch out before you head out. Light to moderate gardening can burn between 300 to 400 calories an hour, compared to the 40 calories an hour while sitting quietly. So take the time to prepare your body for activity, always warm-up and cool down your muscles. Add a short walk and you’ll have topped off your routine with overall conditioning. Now you’re ready for your open-air workout!

Use good technique while lifting. Keep the load close to your body, your back straight and bend your knees while picking up and putting down the load. Avoid twisting, and get a buddy to give a hand with heavy, awkward loads.

Use the right tools and moves. The right moves can reduce the strain on your body; alternate your tasks, kneel to plant and weed, change positions frequently and most importantly pace yourself. Moving correctly and using the right tools go hand-in-hand. Work with ease in your garden and yard, always make sure that tools are a comfortable weight and size for you. There are many ergonomically designed tools which are light-weight with long padded handles and spring action mechanisms which can reduce strain and effort.

You’ve completed a gold medal performance, take a break! Get-up, move around, alternate tasks, repeat your stretch routine or sit back, relax and have a cool drink. Try not to overexert yourself, and take three brief breaks at least once every hour. Give yourself a breather… Your back will thank you!

If you have back or muscle pain that lasts more than 48-hours without improvement, call to speak to Dr. Ted and he will be able to help you out.

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