Spring is in full force and we hope you are all enjoying the sunshine and warm temperatures! As the weather gets nicer, we start to see the gardening itch emerge in our patients at the clinic. Sun beaming on your face, fresh flowers in your hands and birds chirping in the trees-it doesn’t get much better than that. Let’s not let headaches, low back, neck or knee pain ruin those tranquil moments. In this newsletter we’ll be focusing on spring gardening tips and tricks to help avoid those aches and pains. Our main topics are: avoiding poor posture while gardening, knee bursitis, and dehydration.
Let’s talk about posture: What is poor gardening posture, you ask? There are a few positions to avoid. We will break them down into “DO THIS” & “DON’T DO”
#1 DO THIS-Kneel with both knees on a kneeling pad (or while wearing padded knee pads). DON’T stand upright and bend forward at the waist to reach the ground. This posture increases pressure and strain in your low back muscles.
#2 DO THIS-Support yourself with one hand when leaning forward to weed/prune plants. DON’T Lean forward with both arms for weeding. This can cause unnecessary upper back strain.
#3 DO THIS: Switch hands frequently to give each one a break! DON’T Use your dominant hand the entire time.
#4 DO THIS –Focus on planting in the area between your knees and within comfortable arms reach. DON’T Keep your body far away from the task at hand, forcing yourself to reach and lean away.
#5 DO THIS– Break up your activities with some variation. Rake for 10 minutes, plant for 10 minutes, prune for 10 minutes, etc. DON’T-Focus on the same task for a while without taking breaks or switching positions. The best posture is a changing posture.
QUICK TIPS: Keep your back neutral, use your hips and knees to bend. Avoiding over-twisting and keep your rake in front of you. Do short, brisk rakes and avoid long, heavy pulls.
For BENDING & LIFTING- Use your legs, not your back. Lift from a squat (bending your hips and knees). Avoid lifting and twisting at the same time; try to lift straight in front of you and pivot your feet to move the load.
DIGGING SOIL – Stand with feet hip-width apart and have your leading foot in front. You should be in split stance. Bend from your knees and hips, keep that back neutral! Use pressure from your foot on top of the shovel to dig deeper, don’t hunch forward with your back to gain more strength.
Dehydration: When working outside it is extremely easy to become dehydrated. Symptoms of dehydration include: thirst, dry mouth, fewer trips to the bathroom, headache, dizziness, and nausea. Our goal is to always keep hydrated so that you can keep working away in the garden feeling your best. Our top tips are to drink water consistently, don’t wait until you are thirsty; make water readily available by using a re-useable water bottle and keeping it by your workstation; wear a hat to protect your head from the sun; take frequent breaks to move around, re-fill your bottle and go to the washroom when necessary.
A note about knee bursitis and gardening:
Whether you knew already or not, we’re going to quickly explain what knee bursitis is. There is a small fluid filled sac that is situated near your knee joint which can become inflamed with frequent and/or sustained pressure from kneeling (especially on hard surfaces.) This is an important one to chat about when discussing gardening tips as most of us tend to kneel directly on the ground when working outside. Oddly enough the ground being a hard surface, can actually be an irritant to those knee bursae and cause unwanted inflammation and pain. What can you do to help? Invest in some great gardening knee pads! They are specially designed to protect your knees by using cushy padding which acts as a comfortable cushion between your knees and that hard ground. You should look for the following before you purchase any gardening pads. 1) comfortable thick foam padding over the knee 2) flexible soft material that makes up the rest of the pad to avoid compression and 3) adjustable straps to get a custom fit.
Now that we’ve been over some of these tips and tricks to keep you feeling your best while helping your garden look its best, please let us know if you found any of the information presented particularly helpful. We can’t wait to see pictures of what you all have been busy planting this year!
Follow our practitioners on social media – Dr. Frederick is on Facebook- @ Dr. Frederick Chiropractic, Instagram -@dr_frederick_chiropractic, Lori Tangen is on Facebook- @ Lorraine Tangen RMT or Instagram @ltangenrmt