Each year, when winter is over and spring has arrived, we are all excited to get out, clean up our yards and plant some brightly colored flowers. This pop of color really helps chase away winter depression and gives hope for the future. However, after all our hours spent watching TV on those cold winter nights, rushing to garden can sometimes lead to injury. Drs. George and Stefanie Olar of 360 Chiropractic in Lacey want to help you get outdoors safe with these helpful tips for avoiding injury while gardening.
“If you enjoy working on the lawn and garden at this time of year, you also know how easy it is to overdo it,” says Dr. George. “Approach your spring jobs with a few chiropractic tips in mind so you can get the job done without back pain.”
Nobody wants to have to stop planting or raking because of back pain. And you certainly don’t want to miss work on Monday because of yard work done on Sunday. “The American Chiropractic Association warns us that the repetitive motions the body uses with lawn equipment can trigger muscle strains and tears, back and neck pain,” Dr. Stefanie shares. Especially since you probably haven’t done most of these motions since last summer, and for those of us in the Pacific Northwest, that equates to about seven months ago! You wouldn’t run a marathon after seven months off, think of your gardening as the same thing. You have to get back to it to avoid injury.
360 useful tips from chiropractic to avoid an injury at work in the garden
- Do warm-up and cool-down stretches before and after gardening! Think of yard work as a form of exercise, and proper warming up and cooling down can help you avoid injury. What are good stretches? Target the areas you’ll be using, like your arms, legs, and core:
- Stand up straight and raise your arms above your head to reach for the sky. Bend down to the ground. Repeat two or three times.
- Wrap your arms around you after exhaling and twist from side to side. Hold it for 10 seconds. Then reverse and repeat two or three times.
- Sit on a flat mat with your knees straight in front of you. Then bend forward to reach your toes in a slow, easy stretch.
Weeding, shoveling and raking may be necessary, but they shouldn’t take forever, remember to take breaks and change hands often so that all the weight is not placed on one side of the body, which causes discomfort. Just like working out, you want to keep your body even while doing everything on both sides!
- Use helpful tools like garden carts, benches, and kneeling pads to relieve discomfort.
- Use protective gear such as a hat, goggles, and/or hearing protection if using noisy equipment. If you suffer from asthma or allergies, wear a mask!
- Choose suitable shoes! Worn shoes or old sandals should not be used. Keep your feet comfortable by using stable shoes with good arch support so foot, leg and back pain doesn’t set in. Flimsy shoes could also put you at risk of falling. Need new support? 360 Chiropractic offers custom orthotics that can relieve the pain of everyday walking.
- Space out the tasks. Too many people try to finish all their yard work at once, but it’s hard on the body. It’s best to space out tasks, crossing them off a list one at a time. For example, work for half an hour, then take a break, drink some water and sit down for a bit. This helps prevent pain and fatigue.
- When picking up or putting down equipment, bend at the knees, not the waist.
- When lifting equipment, keep it close to your body.
- When mowing, use your whole body to push the mower, rather than just your arms and back. A walk-behind mower can also help save your back.
What to do if you feel pain
Even if you stretch and take it easy, sometimes things happen. You twist too much while lifting. You don’t have your leg quite under you when you get off the floor. You pull that rake one too many times. The first thing to do is stop working for the day! “If you experience pain or discomfort after yard work, contact a doctor of chiropractic,” advises Dr. George. “Chiropractors are trained and licensed to treat the musculoskeletal system and can also help you lead a healthier life by focusing on wellness and prevention.”
At 360 Chiropractic, they offer chiropractic adjustments, laser, and massage therapy to help you heal quickly so you can get back outside to enjoy those sunny spring days, when we have them. Visit the 360 Chiropractic website for more information.
5101 Lacey Boulevard SE, Lacey