Fall is here along with thanksgiving and it is time to put your garden to sleep. Raking, lifting, pulling and digging. For the majority of us, these are not our typical everyday activities. So when we take on the weekend warrior role of green thumb extraordinaire, it is important to know our limits. Here are some tips to help keep your back and body healthy and strong.
1.) Warming up is important. Start on the lighter things first in the garden. Do some jumping jacks or running on the spot to get the muscles and body warm and loose.
2.) Break up activities into 20 minute blocks. Spending longer than 20 minutes bending over digging our pulling plants is a recipe for disaster for your low back. Our muscles are designed to move us not hold us (i.e. try and hold your arm out to the side of your body for longer than 10 minutes). When you give your body a break it has time to recover which means less back ache and injury.
3.) Try and keep upright. Our shoulders should be directly over our hips, when we bend at the hips this increases the load in our low back. Bending at the knees while lifting allows you to keep your shoulders over your hips and your back straight. If there is small stuff to do, bring it to a raised work surface.
4.) Stay hydrated, You would be surprised how much water our body loses with activity in sweat and breathing. Keep drinking while you are working in the garden. If you have become thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
5.) Recovery is also important. We all have felt and know the next day aches and pains. After a long day in the garden, sit down and have a drink of water. If you are achy, get some ice on the areas for 20 minutes at a time. Ice and hydration helps the body reduce inflammation that is created from gardening activities.
Keep safe and happy gardening!