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Basic Garden Variety Stretches for Spring Clean-Up

Springtime is finally getting under way with the temperature reaching nearly 80 degrees!

With the weather warming and everything turning green, you know what this means? Most people will start to spend more and more time outside fixing up their lawns and gardens. All of these activities can prove to be a great workout and all, but with the increased bending, twisting, reaching and pulling, your body may be in shock from the new “garden variety” exercises.

Working in the yard can be a fun and enjoyable pastime, but it’s an entire body workout that needs proper stretching before diving right in and reaching for those gardening tools. The entire back, legs, shoulders, and arms are all key components affected when using your green thumb.

Even performing the simplest types of stretches before yard work will help prevent injuries as well as alleviate your pain and stiffness.

The first thing to realize is that the no-pain, no-gain rule does not apply. Stretching should simply not be painful. A couple stretches that you can try for your lower back include:

  • Standing upright, place your heel on top of a chair or surface close to waist height or above. With the leg that is on the floor, slowly squat down (never bend at the waist) and feel the pull behind the leg that is on the chair. Rotate 90 degrees so the instep of your foot is now on the chair and again squat down. Rotate 90 degrees once more so the top of your foot is on the chair and allow your hips to push forward so you feel a pull in the front of your thigh. 
  • Sitting upright in a chair, grab a hold of the chair with one hand. With the other hand, gently pull forward and down to one side to feel a pull in the back of your neck. Then gently push your head up and back to one side to feel a pull in the front of your neck.
  • Standing close to a wall, place your arm along side of the wall at a 90-degree angle to your body and gently turn your body away from that arm to feel a pull in the front of your shoulder.
  • Find a door knob or handle that is sturdy enough to hold your body.  Grab a hold of the handle and with your feet a few inches away from the door, gently lean back and make your body into a “C” shape. Gently tuck your chin to your chest to feel a pull along your shoulders, upper and mid back.
  • While in the doorway, with the door open, place one hand on each side of the frame. Gently let your body lean forward allowing your elbows to bend, and imagine your shoulder blades trying to touch one another. You should start to feel a stretch along your chest and in your upper back.

Finally, being aware of your body technique, body form and correct posture while gardening is crucial in preventing injuries. Make sure to kneel down, never bend at the waist, and alternate your stance and movements as often as possible to keep the muscles and body balanced.

After a hard day’s work in the yard, you may already be feeling your muscle aches and pains. If you didn’t happen to complete the warm-up and cool-down stretches, one way to ease you discomfort, simply apply an ice pack on the affected area for 20 minutes on and 1 hour off, for the first 48 hours, then apply a heat pack thereafter, and consider chiropractic care with me at the clinic. And remember to always drink plenty of water.