Plant and Rake Without the Ache
Tips for a Healthy Back in the Garden
Gardening and yard work are the number one causes of back and/or neck pain in the spring and summer months - by a long shot.
In a recent survey, Ontario chiropractors reported that working in the yard and garden are the most common sources of back and/or neck pain they treat during the warm weather season. Golf ranked in second place at 31 per cent, tied with outdoor sports in general at 30 per cent.
In Canada, gardening is an estimated $3.5 billion business and all that digging, lifting, raking, pruning, planting, weeding, and watering can cause significant strain to the muscles and back. The good news is that it’s preventable.
Gardening can be a serious workout. That’s why I encourage people to treat it like any other kind of exercise. Warming-up before digging in, and using proper techniques and tools can go a long way to letting people enjoy the results of their labour pain-free.
Here are some practical tips for back smart gardening:
Stretch Before You Start: Warming up your muscles with stretches before going out helps to reduce the stress and strain on your joints and muscles, reducing the chance of injury.
Bend Your Knees To Lift With Ease: When lifting, keep your back straight and bend your knees. Always carry the load close to your body and avoid twisting.
The Right Tools, The Right Moves: Use the right tools and moves for the job. Kneel to plant and change positions frequently when raking, digging, hoeing or pruning. Use ergonomically designed, long handled, lightweight tools.
Take a Break Before It Aches: Give yourself and your back a break. As a rule-of –thumb take a brief stretch at least three times each hour, and drink fluids frequently.
Done properly, gardening produces more than a beautiful yard – it can help tone and strengthen muscles and burn calories too. An hour of gardening can easily burn 300 to 400 calories. Compare that to only 40 calories when just sitting quietly for half an hour.
The Ontario Chiropractic Organization (OCA) is launching a public awareness campaign, “Plant and Rake Without the Ache”, to help Ontario’s gardening enthusiasts avoid the stiff and sore joints, muscles, and back pain that often accompany a work out in the yard. For more information and tip sheets on this topic check out the OCA’s website.
The single best piece of advice this spring to gardeners of all ages is – Take It Easy. If you pace yourself by giving your body breaks you can avoid ending up with stiff muscles and a sore back.
For gardening specific tips to help your back and some great stretching sheets that expand on the material here stop by Dr. Sara O’Neill’s office at 6 Downey Street in Kitchener or call 519-880-0003.
Dr. Sara O’Neill, chiropractor, practices Network Spinal Analysis in Kitchener. Network Spinal Analysis (NSA) is an important development in health care associated with long term benefits in health, emotional state, and quality of life. It taps into our body’s innate capacity to heal and promotes a more effective means for optimizing health and wellness. It is a safe, gentle, and effective approach for everyone, regardless of age or health.
NSA teaches your brain and body to develop better ways of releasing tension and improves the overall efficiency of the nervous system. The spine houses most of the nerves that control body function, which affects the health and status of most of our internal organs, tissues, head, trunk, and limbs. The spinal cord and its membranes also retain a considerable amount of emotional tension.
NSA involves the application of very gentle, manual contacts along the spine referred to as “entrainments”. This in turn changes the vibrational tone of the nervous system and enables tension stored in the body to be released. After the brain and spinal cord learn to release tension, the focus of the entrainments shifts to teaching the nervous system how not to store tension in the first place. This has large ramifications on the health of a person from less pain and symptoms to having more freedom of thought. For more information check out our website.
Come on in to see Dr. Sara for gardening tips and stretching handouts. Ask us about Network Spinal Analysis while you’re there.