Dr Bret Wilson

Keep the Spring in your Step

Keep the Spring in Your Step

Dr Bret WilsonWith a change of the season, there is also a change of activity.  As spring emerges there is
gardening and yard work to be done.  Here are a few tips so the work of spring does not take the spring from your step.

Warm Up
Prior to tackling the project, get your muscles warmed up and your joints lubricated.  A 15-30
minute walk is a great way to get blood pumping, muscles and joints moving.  Warm-up should consist of rhythmic movements of the joints and muscles through a range of motion.  Flex, bend and rotate all your limbs and neck and back in a slow deliberate manner to “wake things up”.  Static stretches are not the best warm-up.  The stretches actually relax the muscle (read weaken) and therefore are not making you ready for activity.  Gentle rhythmic motions are better to get you ready to move.

Lean On Me.
Gardening and yard work involve a lot of repletion of bending, getting up and down.  The debris or plants are not heavy, but the bending and reaching accumulates stress over the 1000 times you move.  Supporting the back muscle by leaning your hand on your thigh, a shovel or rake, the wall or
fence post helps reduce accumulated stress. Bend your knees or squat to reach the ground.  The objects may not be heavy, but using the muscles of your legs to lower your body weight, keeping your center of gravity balanced reduces strain to the lumbar muscles.

Change Positions Alternate Movements
Divide your work into small parts that allows alternation of sedentary and movement activities: sitting, squatting, standing, walking, bending and reaching.  This helps avoid prolonged postural stress and works different sets of muscles with less fatigue.   The longer you are in the same position or working the same muscles repeatedly, the greater chance of injury.  Dig the hole for a bit, then move to some weeding, walk to the garage to get a toll.  Then go back to more digging, weeding etc.  Put the receptacle for the weeds far enough away so that when you have a handful, you get up and walk across the garden to throw it away.  This gives you a posture break, uses muscles differently, gets the blood moving.  When raking, sweeping, using the grass trimmer, use movements in both directions, alternate hands side to side, don’t always pull in the same way.

You Deserve a Break
Take frequent rest breaks to cool down, drink some water, get out of the straining postures and think about how to get the job done more efficiently.  Allowing your body periods of recovery during the activity, allows for less prolonged disability following the activity.

Gentle slow prolonged stretches are best following completion of the day’s work.  This helps the muscles to relax and balance out any overuse.  Hold positions that feel stretch, but not pain for 20 to 30 seconds.  Ice is better than heat on sore muscles and joints, inflamed from overuse, 15 minutes every 2 hours as needed.

These steps should help you maintain the spring in your step as you get your home and garden ready for spring.

Yours In Health,

Bret A. Wilson, DC