Sunday, April 19, 2015

Gardener's Back Pain

When the spring blooms begin to return, so can my 'gardener's back'.  "Winter flub": my spare tire doesn't help matters. It's hard. Now that I'm in my 40's, some preventative practices are a must.

Thankfully, because of these stretches and some common sense, I have so far obverted any down time due to back pain.

#1 : Standing straight with legs straddled, bend one knee at a 90° angle and lean down sideways, stretching the apposing leg. Hold for as long as you feel the stretch work. Repeat on the other side. 

#2 : Bending forward on one 90° bent knee, keep your weight centred on the apposing leg which is also bent to 90° under your bottom. Hold, switch legs and repeat several times.

#3 : Using a step, or anything elevated 18" or higher, place one foot on the step (I use the truck door step for this), keeping the opposing leg straight. Lean into the bent knee and press down, continuing to keep the back leg straight. Switch legs and repeat 2-3 times.

I do #4 & #5 at home before going to work.

#4 : Laying flat, I bring one knee to my chest and leave the other down straight. Holding the knee to my chest for at least 1 minute. Switching legs and repeating several times. Crossing the knee over the top of your body towards your opposing side, really stretches the lower back. Repeat on both sides and HOLD for about a minutes. What a huge release of strain. This really works.

#5 : Bringing both knees to the chest. Holding for one minute. Bring them back down and repeat several times.

#6 : Standing with straddled legs, slightly bent, shoulder width apart, twist your shoulders and arms towards your opposing leg. Twist back and forth keeping legs straddled. This really helps stretch the lower back before or after you lift heavy objects or if you have been in weeding for a long while.

Other helpful hints:
  • Bend at the knee when lifting and make sure your centre of gravity is in the hip area, not your back.
  • Don't let your lower back get a cold draft after sweating.
  • Stretch after a heavy lift (always ask for help instead of lifting on your own).
  • Make many trips with lighter loads, instead of one heavier load.
  • Do not wear a tight belt or anything overly constrictive on your waistline. This is imperative. Constricting your waist impedes your muscles from working normally, due to pressure. Here's one way to avoid tight pants constricting your waist:
I made this, but I believe maternity clothing stores sell an elastic version of this. I put it on, when I know I have a lot of bending and lifting to do in a day. This is simply a stretchy band of elastic fabric. I doubled it up and used a sturdy button. I sewed up the hole so that it wouldn't fray.

It works like a charm. Once I get back doing pruning or something else which requires less movement, I remove it and tuck it into my pocket.
End the day with a great epsom salts bath and a stretch before bed. I cannot get up in the morning without a thorough stretch anymore. These tips truly make the difference.

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