Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful’, and sitting in the shade.
October is undoubtedly fall. The days are shorter, the air crisp, the leaves turn. With this change in season comes the inevitable work in the yard. In our practice we are busy at this time of year helping patients who have spent extra hours cleaning up from this season and getting ready for the next one. Here are some tips to keep your body moving well and out of pain while in the yard this fall.
Stretching and moving your body before working in the yard can help you get limber and decrease soreness. This is a start and by no means a comprehensive list. See your health care professional if you have specific issues that require guidance and avoid if these cause pain.
Quadricep Stretch-In a standing position, reach down to your right ankle and gently pull your lower leg towards your thigh. You can stabilize yourself with your other hand against a wall. This will mobilize your right knee and simultaneously stretch the muscle in the front of your thigh (the quadricep). Hold for 60 seconds. Repeat for the left leg
Shoulder Circles-In a standing position, with your arms at your sides, slowly rotate your arms at your shoulders and make big circles with your arm. Do 10 rotations forward, 10 rotations backward with your right arm and then 10 rotations forward, 10 rotations backward with your left arm.
Spinal Twists-In a standing position, with your arms crossed in front of your chest and while keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground, twist your upper body fully to the right. Repeat with the same rotation to the left. Do 10 rotations.
Take It Easy
Working in the yard can be enjoyable. Or it may be one that you need to tick off the list. Regardless of enjoyment level, make sure to take regular rest breaks. A 5 minute rest break every 30 minutes is recommended. When taking a break do the opposite action that you have been doing for the preceding period of time. I.e. if you have been crouched down pulling weeds for half an hour get up and move around. Alternatively, if you have been moving bags of
yard waste then sit down and rest. When you take your breaks remember to drink water. Staying hydrated by drinking 8-12 oz of water per hour can help decrease muscle cramps
Listen to Your Body
The positions and the postures that yard work requires can put significant physical stress on your body, however, it is hard to predict which positions will aggravate which people. In other words, some people can spend a fair bit of time working with their arms overhead but for others even a couple minutes of this leads to immediate pain and tightness in their shoulders. Same story with bending at your waist or working on your knees. With this in mind, the best advice is to pay attention to what your body is telling you and modify accordingly. If the pain continues for more than a couple of days be sure to get it addressed. Several high quality studies demonstrate the benefits of early treatment and rehabilitation for musculoskeletal complaints. The practitioners at Proactive Chiropractic & Wellness Centre have the tools such as acupuncture, massage therapy, manipulation, exercise prescription and Active Release Techniques to get you on the road to recovery quickly.
Consider hiring help
By all means do what you can and enjoy but if there are physically daunting jobs such as hedge pruning or tree cutting there are several reputable local companies that can help you. A phone call and a few dollars can go a long way to saving your body and ticking off the jobs that you have been meaning to tackle for a while but don’t feel physically ready to handle.
Yard work is often necessary and sometimes fulfilling. It can impose strain and stress on the body but with a few simple steps you can enjoy the results of your hard work without pain and injury.
Enjoy your fall