As a fellow gardener in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, I understand the excitement spring brings. Locked up all winter we get stir-crazy and cannot wait to get outside and start working on the garden.The smell of the fresh air as the breeze blows through the open windows. Days are longer and nights are shorter. Birds are singing in the background and the sun is warming everything. Below are 5 ways to improve you gardening experience and to make sure you are able to enjoy it pain free!
1) Warm Up!
What do I mean by warm up? Just like exercising, gardening is an activity the needs a warm up. I am not talking about the crazy warm ups we would do back in high school athletics, I am talking about easy stretches that can prepare your back.
Before and After you go to garden try the COBRA.
Instructions: You will lay down on your stomach and place your hands underneath your shoulders. Then press into the ground with your hands and lift up your upper body. Your legs and hips will remain on the ground as you push yourself up as far as you can. Repeat it for repetitions of 10-15 OR hold yourself at the top for 30-40 seconds. Do this 2-3 times before you go outside to garden. You will find that your lower back will love you.
2) Take breaks to move!
While you are out in the garden pulling those stubborn weeds or trying to wire a fence to keep out the furry intruders it is important to take a break from bending over. This is another stretch that will have your lower back feeling great.
While you're gardening take 30 seconds to try Back Extensions.
Instructions: Stand up and make sure you have your feet spread out shoulder width apart. Then place both of your hands palms first at where your lower back meets your hips. You will use them as a fulcrum point to bend backwards over. Slowly bend backwards while pushing with your hands to drive your hips forward. You can do 15-20 repetitions of these every 15 minutes. When you do take a break make sure you help your lower back get a break as well.
3) Bending over Properly!
It is inevitable that we have to bend over and most of us round our lower back while pulling weeds or planting seeds. It is important that we understand how to protect our low back while we perform our duties in the garden. If we can protect our back during the difficult times it will reduce the amount of inflammation and stress put on the lower back. The question you are thinking is how do I bend over properly?
Show your tail feathers off to the world...aka hip hinging.
Instructions: As you bend over think of sticking your butt out and pointing your "tail feathers" to the sky. You will notice the tension in your lower back shift to the muscles on the back of your legs and your butt! This is where it should be, protecting the muscles surrounding your lower back from becoming tired and causing you pain. Your butt and leg muscles are larger muscles that are meant to tolerate the increased tension, thus relieving you from experiencing low back pain.
4) Bracing the Core!
What is the core? How do I brace it? Why is this important? Gardening involves bending, pulling, lifting, and other activities that put stress on the lower back. Your core is made up of your abdominal musculature and is crucial in protecting your lower back. Learning to brace will provide increased support to your lower back allowing you to garden for years to come.
Think of breathing into your stomach...Bracing
Instructions: Picture your stomach as a balloon that you want to fill full of air. Take a breath in and push as if you were trying to break wind. Tension will be created through your entire abdomen (stomach area). This is bracing. It is important to brace when lifting and pulling objects. It acts like a supporting belt for you lower back, allowing it to remain stable and pain free.
5) Staying Hydrated!
How will staying hydrated help with preventing low back pain? Do I need to carry a gallon of water everywhere? Staying hydrated is important, it helps you body regulate its internal functions. This leads to increased energy levels, overall health, and recovery. Remaining hydrated helps our discs in our back from dehydrating and letting inflammation set in, thus decreasing the chances of causing pain.
Your plants are not the only things that need water...Hydrate
Instructions: Get yourself a 16oz water bottle that you can drink out of throughout the day. Set a timer on your phone for when that bottle of water should be empty. You will want to finish that 16oz bottle of water 4x within 1 day. Start with 2 hour increments at a time and you will be hydrated and feeling more energized and pain free!
Remember the internet is a great place for information, but it does not replace an exam from a thoroughly trained healthcare professional. If you are suffering from pain, or need help reaching your health goals, feel free to contact us! Our staff at PPCRehab are well trained in pain management and are here to help you achieve YOUR health goals.Our mission is to help you move well so you can continure to move often!