If spring sunshine and warm temperatures bring out your "inner gardener", be aware that your body may not be prepared to accommodate the physical activity involved in hoeing, pulling weeds, planting bulbs and preparing a vegetable garden. When exercising your green thumb, you are also exerting muscles, tendons and ligaments in your shoulders, thighs, back, legs, arms, and wrists. At Geaux Chiro, we treat many patients during the spring and early summer months who have suffered painful musculoskeletal injuries due to gardening activity. Fortunately, you can reduce your risk of soft tissue injury before grabbing your shovel and hoe by performing these warm-up exercises to prepare your body for intense physical activity.
5 Great Garden Fitness Stretches
1. Before performing stretching exercise, take the time to do breathing exercises that enriches the bloodstream with extra oxygen. Muscles rely on oxygen molecules to conduct chemical processes essential for strength, endurance, and general health. Inhale and exhale deeply and slowly while sitting in a comfortable position. Extend your lungs as far as you can without feeling dizzy or out of breath.
2. While still sitting, stretch one of your legs out in front of you. Make sure your knee is straight and that your foot is propped on your heel. Now, lean forward slowly until you feel your thigh muscles stretching. Hold this position for about 15 to 20 seconds. Repeat this exercise with your other leg.
3. While standing, grab your ankle and pull your foot towards the upper part of your leg. Hold for 15 seconds before letting go of your ankle. Repeat this exercise with your other ankle.
4. While standing, clasp your hands above your head and straighten your elbows as much as you can. Then, lean slowly to one side and hold that position for 15 seconds. Resume standing upright. Lean to the other side with your hands still clasped above your head. Repeat this stretching exercise at least five times.
5. Sit down on the floor and spread your legs about two feet apart. Bend at the waist towards the ground as far as you can comfortably. Now, bend your body towards one leg and then the other. Repeat this stretch as often as you can.
Here's more advice for preventing muscle stiffness and soreness from gardening:
- Avoid feet and ankle strain by wearing arch-supportive shoes
- When raking or mowing, remember to stand straight. Keep your head level with your shoulders and don't "hunch" over while raking or mowing
- When weeding or picking up heavy gardening equipment, bend at your knees, not at your waist. Picking up items by bending over and relying solely on back muscles is a good way to strain back muscles.
- Use the weight of your whole body as you push a mower instead of just your back and arms.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated while gardening or mowing. "Thirsty" muscles are prone to strains, sprains, and even tears.
If Gardening Has You Stiff and Sore, Call Geaux Chiro
We know how easy it is to overdo it during spring, especially when you are anxious to get that garden planted and your lawn looking green and healthy again. For drug-free relief of musculoskeletal pain due to overexertion, schedule an appointment with our chiropractor today.