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  • Writer's pictureKaitlyn Sayre

Gardening Aches & Pains

As warmer weather approaches, more than 185 million people in the U.S. – or about 55% of households – will head outside to start tending to their gardens. Gardening has become a favorite hobby for many in recent years, and it can also provide a great workout with all the movement involved. However, after a sedentary winter, your body might not be ready for the bending, twisting, reaching, and pulling that comes with planting bulbs and pulling weeds.

Gardening works all major muscle groups, so it is important to stretch your muscles before you begin digging in the dirt. The back, neck, upper legs, arms, shoulders, and wrists are all major muscle groups affected when using your green thumb. Before doing common gardening activities such as digging, moving mulch and pushing wheelbarrows, it is important to warm-up, cool-down, and stretch to help prevent aches and pains.

“A warm-up and cool-down period are as important in gardening as they are for any other physical activity,” explained Scott Bautch, DC, of the American Chiropractic Association’s (ACA) Council on Occupational Health. “Performing simple stretches during these periods will help alleviate injuries, pain and stiffness.”

Garden Stretches

Try the following stretches to help alleviate muscle pain after a day spent in your garden:

  1. Before stretching for any activity, breathe in and out, slowly, and rhythmically; do not bounce or jerk your body, and stretch as far and as comfortably as you can. Do not follow the “no pain, no gain” rule. Stretching should not be painful.

  2. While sitting, prop your heel on a stool or step, keeping the knees straight. Lean forward, keeping the spine in alignment (no bending or slumping), until you feel a stretch in the back of the thigh or the hamstring muscle. Hold this position for 15 seconds. Do this again and repeat with the other leg.

  3. Stand up, balance yourself, and grab the front of your ankle from behind. While keeping your spine in alignment, pull your heel toward your buttocks and hold the position for 15 seconds. Do this again and repeat with the other leg.

  4. While standing, weave your fingers together above your head with the palms up. Lean to one side for 10 seconds, then to the other. Repeat this stretch three times.

  5. Do the “Hug your best friend.” Wrap your arms around yourself and rotate to one side, stretching as far as you can comfortably go. Hold for 10 seconds and reverse. Repeat two or three times.

Finally, be aware of your technique and your body’s form and posture while gardening. Kneel, do not bend, and alternate your stance and movements frequently.

After the Bulbs are Planted

Gardening has been shown to have a positive impact on physical & mental health, but as with all physical activity there is the possibility that you will experience some pain. If you do feel muscle aches and pains after working in the garden, there are ways to alleviate discomfort: Apply a cold pack on the area of pain and consider making an appointment with Dr. Brandon.

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