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Posted on 05-08-2016

Spring brings with it a host of activities in the garden: raking, planting, pruning, weeding, and oftentimes a lot aches and pains. Here are a few tips to help keep spring gardening pain-free.

To start, remember to pace yourself. You will be able to accomplish more if you go at a task steadily rather than if you push to finish a big project. Take breaks every hour and give yourself a few minutes to stretch, sit down, and drink to replenish the lost fluids. Have chairs placed in the shade around your garden so they remind you to sit and relax for a few minutes.

Chiropractors and other experts in the field say we are at our most vulnerable to injury when bending at the waist and reaching at the same time. Watch your position when raking, shoveling, hoeing, and weeding: even pulling weeds puts more strain on your lower back than you realize. Use a small garden cart or stool to get down to ground level, but if you must bend, do so with your knees and position yourself squarely in front of the object.

Lifting bags of mulch, soil, fertilizer, and all those other fun garden necessities can really do a number on your lower back, neck, and shoulders. If you don't have one, invest in a wheel barrow for transporting heavy items. Always lift with your knees and lower items to the ground from the knee. And don't forget asking for help lifting and moving those necessities is OK.

Stretching too far overhead for hard-to-reach areas while pruning or spraying can cause pain in the neck and shoulders. Ergonomically shaped tools, and tools with thicker handles help lesson the stress not only in your back and neck, but also your wrists and hands. Try using tools with longer handles to get to those out-of-reach spots. Instead of spraying, look for products that allow you to drench the soil around the base of the plant with water-soluble fertilizers or pesticides: and remember to read the instructions on the bottle! Safety first.

Whether you're weeding, cultivating, or watering, you stay more upright and can even work sitting down when you do these tasks with tools that have 3 to 4-foot handles: however you don't have to buy a shed full of new tools. A long-handled barbecue fork, for example, works well for cultivating and weeding, suggests Nancy Chambers of New York's Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine.

Keeping yourself healthy and moving is important. A visit to the chiropractor or massage therapist can help keep your body loose and improve your range of motion. "A warm-up and cool-down period is as important in gardening as it is for any other physical activity," says Scott Bautch, DC, DACBOH, of the American Chiropractic Association's (ACA) Council on Occupational Health. "It is important to stretch your muscles before reaching for your gardening tools. The back, upper legs, shoulders, and wrists are all major muscle groups affected when using your green thumb. Performing simple stretches during these periods will help alleviate injuries, pain and stiffness."

If you experience pain or discomfort from over-doing it in the garden, call your chiropractor. Chiropractors are trained and licensed to treat the entire neuromusculoskeletal system and help people lead healthier lives by focusing on prevention and wellness.

For additional tips on pain-free gardening or to schedule an appointment please contact us.

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