After winter, it’s hard for gardeners to resist the urge to rush outdoors as soon as the weather warms. But you want to try to go slow. Do some warmups. Stretch before tackling any big jobs. Here’s some advice about stretches before you spring into action in the garden.
These how-to tips come from the professionals who end up treating gardeners who over-exert themselves in the spring: chiropractors. As someone who has benefited from chiropractic treatment, I’ve observed how the spring season can be hurtful for some — and lucrative for the practitioners who treat their aches. This year, spend your money on plants, not therapy, by doing some warmups first.
The following advice is from the Ontario Chiropractic Association Plant and Rake Without the Ache program:
Warm up with a short walk, then gently repeat each of the following stretches five times. Hold all stretches for 15 to 20 seconds. Stop if it’s painful.
- Thigh stretch: With one hand on the wall or a tree, bend your left knee and then reach back and hold your ankle with your right hand. Pull your heel toward your buttocks and hold for 30 seconds. Relax and repeat with the other leg. To stretch the back thigh muscles (hamstrings), place one hand on the wall or a tree, and put one foot on a chair, stump or step. Slowly bend forward from the waist until you feel the pull at the back of your thigh. Hold for 30 seconds. Relax and repeat with the other leg.
- Back stretch: Sit on a chair and slowly bend your body forward from your hips, putting your head down and resting your hands on the floor. Hold, then relax.
- Shoulder rolls: With your arms hanging loosely at your sides, slowly rotate your shoulders in a circular motion forward, then backward.
- Wrist extension: While holding one arm straight out as if you were giving a “stop” signal, use your opposite hand to hold this position. Repeat with the other hand.
- Wrist flexion: Hold one arm out in front, palm down. Bend your fingers until they point toward the ground. Use your opposite hand to hold this position.
Heavy lifting is no easy feat. The following back safety tips can help you when lifting on your own:
- Stand close to the load to be lifted
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart
- Keep your back straight
- Squat down to the object’s level and test the weight of the load
- Use the strength of your leg and arm muscles to smoothly and slowly lift the load
- Keep the load close to your body
- Pivot to turn and face the intended direction of travel. Proceed with the load
- Avoid twisting your body while carrying the load
- Bend your knees and slowly lower the load to its intended place
You can download the Plant and Rake Without the Ache brochure that has all these tips.