As the weather warms, many Albertans will be dusting off their spades and unraveling their hoses in anticipation for a spring and summer full of gardening.

As peaceful and relaxing as gardening can be, it’s undeniable it brings with it a lot bending, twisting, reaching and pulling. Your back, upper legs, knees, shoulders, and wrists can all become affected while gardening and it’s important to take the necessary precautions before, during and after enjoying your favourite hobby.

Stretch

Before you even head outside with your favourite gardening attire, give your muscles a good stretch.  As with any activity that will put stress of strain on your muscle, it’s imperative to stretch because warm muscles will work more efficiently and be less likely to be injured.  The Straighten Up Alberta program is a great place to start if you are looking for an effective way to stretch and warm up before digging.

Body Mechanics

Gardening is full of repetitive motions, which, over time can cause you a whole host of problems. Below are different problem movements to avoid during your time enjoying your garden:

  • One of the most pertinent things to think about when it comes to gardening is to reduce amount your body is twisting. Avid gardeners know that there is a lot of twisting to reach the space around you. A good rule of thumb to follow is to squarely face whatever you are working on to reduce twisting. To go along with this, never over reach; move to the job and keep moving to be close to your work.
  • If you are going to be a lot of digging, keep your elbows partially bent. Without proper technique when preforming a repetitive movement like digging you may end up developing tennis elbow.
  • You should be trying not to reach above your shoulders when watering your potted plants. A sturdy ladder is your best friend when it comes to keeping work below shoulder level. Putting constant stress on your shoulders by constant reaching above can cause a shoulder impingement or another type of rotator cuff injury.
  • Avoid pinching and pulling repetitively with your finger and thumb. This usually creeps up when using pruning scissors. If you are going to pruning or using a similar motion, hold objects with a light grasp or pinch, avoid a tight sustained grip.

Tools

Believe it or not, the shovel, spade, rake, etc., you are using could be the direct cause of your discomfort. It is important to buy tools that are appropriate for your size. Try out your gardening tools before you purchase them to make sure handle size, length of spindle, and weight are right for you.

It’s also important to make sure tools meant for digging are kept sharp as that will reduce the amount of effort needed to move your dirt.

Visit Your Chiropractor

If you’ve injured yourself flexing your green thumb or are interested in strengthening or injury prevention, go see your chiropractor. Doctors of Chiropractic are highly educated and specially trained musculoskeletal experts. If you experience back pain related to spring activities, consult your chiropractor.

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