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Safe Gardening

A common ailment we hear about is lower back pain when gardening. To help avoid injury and to maintain a healthy lifestyle, the Ontario Chiropractic Association has come up with some ideas to protect your body. The following is some key information one should keep in mind.


1. Stretching

Gardening is a physical activity just like biking, or golfing and it is important to warm up your muscles prior to starting to avoid injury. Key areas include your hamstrings, abductors, and wrists. 



hamstring stretch

1. Start by standing shoulder width apart so that you can find your balance. 

2. Slowly raise the right leg, bending at the knee.

3. Hug the right leg in towards your chest. You should feel the stretch in the back of your thigh.

4. Repeat for the left leg   



adductors stretch

1. Take a wide step with your right foot to the side. 

2. Slowly bend your right knee so that you are lowered to the ground while keeping your left leg straight. 

3. You should feel the stretch on the inside of your left thigh. 

4. Repeat for the other leg. 

Hold each stretch for 15-20 seconds as tolerated. The goal is a gentle stretch, not to the point of discomfort!



wrist curls finger stretches

Form small circles with your wrists. Rotate for 15 seconds clockwise, then switch to counter-clockwise.


2. Lifting

A frequent error that is seen when gardening is that an individual will tend to lift heavy items with their back. This puts extra strain on the joints and is an effective way to hurt yourself. Instead, use your LEGS to lift. Start by getting nice and close to the object which you are moving. Stand in a comfortable position, with your feet shoulder-width apart and facing the object. Bend your knees to lower yourself instead of bending at your back. Once you have a solid grip, slowly straighten your legs to raise yourself back up. A useful cue to avoid lifting with your back is to focus first on using the back of your things, then your glutes, and lastly your back. By using the muscles in this order will decrease the amount of strain on your back. 


3. Breaks

Sometimes we can let time get away from us and stay hovered over our garden for too long. Ensure that you take breaks every 15-30 minutes. During these breaks you should stand-up, move around, have some water, and stretch out any muscles or joints that have become stiff. A helpful tool is to set a timer to remind yourself. 


For more information feel free to come to our clinic and one of our staff will be happy to provide you with a brochure. 


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