Raking, lifting, digging, kneeling, planting – this is enough activity to challenge any athlete.  Gardening and yard work may not be Olympic sports, but they are strenuous physical activities.  In a recent poll, 88 percent of Ontario chiropractors indicated that working in the garden and yard were the most common sources of neck and back pain they see during the warm weather season.

To help you enjoy the fruits of your labor during this yard and gardening season, we recommend you keep these tips in mind.

Warm up a little bit…..
 Light to moderate gardening can burn between 300 to 400 calories an hour, compared to the 40 calories an hour while sitting quietly.  So, it is worthwhile to take the time to prepare your body for this activity, like any other.  Take a short, brisk walk around the block before you begin, and you will have also added a bit of overall conditioning.  Now you are ready for your open-air workout.

Use good technique……
When lifting, keep the load close to your body and your back straight. Bend your knees while picking up and putting down the load.  Avoid twisting and get a buddy help with heavy, awkward loads.  Push rather than pull with heavy items.

Use the right tools and moves. ……
The correct motions can reduce the strain on your body:  alternate your tasks, kneel to plant and weed, changing positions frequently. Switch sides with repetitive tasks such as shoveling or sweeping. To work with ease in your garden and yard, always make sure that your tools are a comfortable weight and size for you.  There are many ergonomically designed garden implements which are light weight with long padded handles, spring action and other mechanisms which can reduce strain and effort.

Don’t overdo it…..
Pace yourself.  There often arises some urgency to complete the whole job in one shot!  Time passes quickly when gardening, so a good rule is to start with 1-2 hours and then take a short break.  Dependent on the tasks you are taking on, this might be enough for one day.  Your garden will still be there tomorrow.

Do a 10 minute stretch afterwards ….
This can help a great deal in preventing sore muscles the next day.  Your Chiropractor can advise you of the best exercises for your situation.

You have now completed a gold medal GARDENING performance!  Congratulations !!

VISIT YOUR CHIROPRACTOR after your gardening activities to restore and reset your body.  They can provide further information on injury prevention & best practices for you.