Gardening can be enjoyable but also cause pain

Published 9:10 am Monday, April 26, 2010

Spring is here, and with the warmer weather, people will be spending more time outside planting, mowing the lawn and pulling weeds. Gardening can be a source of a great exercise, but with all the reaching, bending, twisting, and pulling, your body may not be ready for garden variety exercise.

Gardening can be a fun way to spend a day outside. Before you run out to the garage and grab your tools, take a few minutes to warm-up and stretch. A proper warm-up and cool-down are just as important before yard work, as they are before any other activity.

Before you start your stretches, it is important to remember the fundamentals of stretching. It is important to take slow deep breaths and hold the stretch. Avoid bouncing motions while performing the stretch. Most notably, stretching should not be painful. Only go as far as you can, comfortably.

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Using the following four stretches, you will lessen your chances of a lawn care related injuries and spend the whole summer enjoying the beautiful flowers.

For the first stretch, sit in a chair and place your foot up on a stool or a step. Bend forward until you obtain a stretch in the back of your leg. For the second stretch, stand behind a chair that may be held onto for balance and bend your knee towards your buttocks and hold the leg in that position. The stretch should be felt on the front of the bent leg. The third stretch will target the wrists, as well as the back. Weave your fingers together and lift your arms with your palms up towards the ceiling. Bend to one side and hold, repeat on the other side. Finally, the forth stretch will target the low back. Wrap your arms around yourself and rotate to one side and then on the other side. Hold this position where you feel a comfortable stretch in your low back. All four stretches should be held for 15 to 20 seconds and repeated once before changing sides.

When working in the garden, it is important to be aware of proper technique. When working near the ground, such as planting, kneel instead of bending. If you find yourself working in one position for an extended period of time, remember to alter posture and stance to avoid excess muscle strain.

If you finish your day in the yard and begin to feel muscle aches and pains, you will want to proceed with the following; ice the area of discomfort for 10 to 15 minutes. Ice should be used for the first 48 hours of muscle soreness. During the next 48 hours, heat may be used. Remember to use a barrier, such as a towel, between the skin and the hot or could pack.

If your pain persists, consider seeing a chiropractor.

With these healthy gardening tips, you should be ready to exercise your green thumb and enjoy the spring season in the garden.

Matthew M. Tubbs is a doctor of chiropractic and owner of Tubbs Chiropractic, P.A., 226 W. Clark St., in Albert Lea.