Spring into Springtime

Posted by on Mar 20, 2010 in Health Tips/Information | Comments Off on Spring into Springtime

Now that it’s spring in Santa Barbara, the weather is warming up and leaves are turning green. Many people will spend more time outside gardening, playing, and other activities. The area around here is fun and it’s hard not to keep active. But even with our mild Santa Barbara winters, we tend to be less active. With the new activity, we should take care before jumping into what ever we are going to do.

Santa Barbara Chiropractor James Neary

Gardening is relaxing, fun, and rewarding, but it’s important to remember to stretch your muscles before you start. The back, upper legs, shoulders, and arm are some major areas affected when gardening.

A warm-up and cool-down period is as important in gardening as it is for any other physical activity,” said Dr. Scott Bautch of the American Chiropractic Association’s (ACA) Council on Occupational Health. “Performing simple stretches during these periods will help alleviate injuries, pain and stiffness.”

To make gardening as fun and enjoyable as possible, it is important to prepare your body for this type of physical activity. The following stretches will help to alleviate muscle pain after a day spent in your garden.

Garden Fitness Stretches

  • Before stretching for any activity, breathe in and out, slowly and rhythmically; do not bounce or jerk your body, and stretch as far and as comfortably as you can. Do not follow the no pain, no gain rule. Stretching should not be painful. While sitting, prop your heel on a stool or step, keeping the knees straight. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in the back of the thigh, or the hamstring muscle. Hold this position for 15 seconds. Do this once more and repeat with the other leg.
  • Stand up, balance yourself, and grab the front of your ankle from behind. Pull your heel towards your buttocks and hold the position for 15 seconds. Do this again and repeat with the other leg.
  • While standing, weave your fingers together above your head with the palms up. Lean to one side for 10 seconds, then to the other. Repeat this stretch three times.
  • Do the “Hug your best friend.” Wrap your arms around yourself and rotate to one side, stretching as far as you can comfortably go. Hold for 10 seconds and reverse. Repeat two or three times.
  • Finally, be aware of your body technique, body form and correct posture while gardening. Kneel, don’t bend, and alternate your stance and movements as often as possible to keep the muscles and body balanced.

Around the Yard:

  • When raking leaves, use a scissors stance: right foot forward and left foot back for a few minutes; then reverse, putting your left foot forward and your right foot back. Bend at the knees, not the waist, as you pick up leaves or grass from the grass catcher. Make piles small to decrease the possibility of back strain. For mowing, use your weight to push the mower.
  • Whenever possible, use ergonomically correct tools for the job.

Playing Sports:

  • Warm up slowly before a game. Do calisthenics, flexibility exercises, or light running to increase your heart rate.
  • When sweat beads form, your body is at the proper temperature to stretch the tendons and muscles.

At Home:

  • When you wash the dishes, open the cabinet beneath the sink, bend one knee, and put your foot on the shelf under the sink. Lean against the counter so some of your weight is supported in front.
  • When resting or watching TV, don’t use the sofa arm as a pillow. The angle is much too sharp for the neck.

At the office:

  • Make sure your chair fits correctly. There should be 2 inches between the front edge of the seat and the back of your legs. Sit with your feet flat on the floor, with your knees at a 90-degree angle. If you can’t sit that way, use an angled or elevated foot rest.
  • Take periodic stretch breaks. Clench your hands in a fist and move your hands like this: 10 circles in, then 10 circles out. Put your hands in a praying position and squeeze together for 10 seconds and then “pray” with the backs of your hands together, fingers pointed downward for 10 seconds. Spread your fingers apart and then bring them together one by one.
  • Hold the telephone with your hand or use the speaker phone. Don’t cradle the phone between your ear and shoulder. This can lock up the spinal joints in the neck and upper back, and eventually cause pain.
  • Don’t bend from the waist when you lift a child. Squat with your back straight. Keep the child close to you and use your legs and arms to lift.

After the day is done…
If you start to feel muscle aches and pains, there are ways to alleviate the discomfort. Apply a cold pack on the area of pain for the first 48 hours or apply a heat pack after 48 hours, and consider chiropractic care. If you believe it may be a serious injury, see your physician.

Santa Barbara Chiropractor James Neary

Prevention is Key!
The best way to stop injuries is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Hopefully these tips will help keep you in shape so you can enjoy the beautiful spring weather.

Chiropractors Can Help…
If  you strain yourself, consider spinal manipulation. The goal of a chiropractor is to manipulate the spine and help stimulate your body’s natural healing process. Contact Dr. Neary in Santa Barbara or Buellton to see how he can help you.

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