The first warm, sunny days of spring have me looking out the window a bit dismayed – my garden that I carefully cultivated all summer long looks a bit worse for wear. Apple trees need pruning, grass has overtaken the flower beds and some plants did make it through the winter. It’s tempting to just jump out there and get started, but that can spell trouble for my back, which, let’s face it, was pretty sedentary all winter long. Whether you are an old-pro at yardwork, or thinking that this year you will finally learn how to garden, protecting your back should be at the top of your list. After all, plants can be replanted, but you only get one spine. Drs. George and Stefanie Olar at 360 Chiropractic in Lacey want to share some helpful tips to maintain spine and overall body health while you prepare your yard for spring.

Helpful Tips to Make Yardwork Easier on Your Back and Body

360 Chiropractic wheelborrow for lifting
Use a wheelborrow,cart or ask someone to help you left anything heavy or bulky to help avoid injury. Photo credit: Kristina Lotz

Warm up First. You may not think of gardening as exercise, but it is! And the key to not getting hurt when exercising, is warming up first. “Gardening can be enjoyable,” shares the Olars, “but it is important to stretch those muscles. Try performing a series of lunges, or lay on your back and bring both knees to your chest, to stretch out your legs and back before heading to the garden bed.”

Take Breaks. I swear the term “back-breaking” came from working on the land. There is nothing easy about pulling weeds, digging holes for plants, pruning trees or creating pathways. “We recommend a break every 20-30 minutes of gardening,” says Dr. George. So, take a break, sit on the porch, and admire all the work you have done. It’s a great time to rehydrate with water too!

Practice Smart lifting. “When doing repetitive lifting and bending, bend with your knees and do a squat keeping your back straight and using both hands,” shares Dr. Stefanie. “For heavier items use a wagon or cart for assistance.” If you can’t safely lift it into the wagon, get help. Better to ask for assistance than to throw your back out, which will keep you away from your spring projects for a long time.

Protect Those Knees. Gardening is hard on more than just your back, your knees can take a lot of pressure when you are down in the dirt. “If you will be kneeling at ground level, a good option is adding cushioning with the use of knee pads,” suggests Dr. George.

360 Chiropractic knee pad
Use a kneeling pad to protect or knees and don’t stay in any one position to long. Photo credit: Kristina Lotz

Stay Hydrated. We mentioned above to drink some water during your breaks. “Keep a water bottle with you while working in the yard and drink often,” the Olars note. Staying hydrated helps your body keep going in the heat.

Change it up. “Switch activities that adjust your posture to reduce risk of repetitive motion injuries,” says Dr. George. So do a bit of weeding, then stand up and dig a hole or prune some branches, then go back to weeding. This will help your body not get over worked in any one area.

Listen to Your body. Finally, don’t push yourself! It can be hard, I know, to stop when you just have two more plants to go, or one more foot of weeding, but if your body is tired, it’s time to quit. “Your body will let you know if you are overworking it,” shares the Olars. “Increased pain indicates you need to take a break or modify your activity and movements. If pain continues, seek care from your chiropractor or primary care provider.”

60 Chiropractic spring gardening
Spring planting should be fun and invigorating, but if you overdue, take it easy and seek professional help. Photo courtesy: 360 Chiropractic

I planted my first five plants of spring (hellebores my favorite!) just this week and as I expected, there was some soreness afterward. After all, I hadn’t dug any holes or weeded since last year. For minor muscle aches and pains after your day in the yard, Drs. George and Stefanie Olar have a few suggestions to alleviate the discomfort. “Apply a cold pack on the area of pain for the first 48 hours at no longer than 20-minute intervals or apply a heat pack after 48 hours 20 minutes at a time, and consider seeking the services of a doctor of chiropractic in your area,” they share. “Chiropractic adjustments help to relieve nerve pain and restore joint function, it is an effective and natural treatment option.”

So, go ahead and plant that award-winning garden, just be sure to take care of yourself. If you over do, contact Drs. George and Stefanie Olar to get yourself put right again. I know I wouldn’t be gardening if it wasn’t for the great work they do keeping pain away while bringing function back. To schedule an appointment or to learn more, visit the 360 Chiropractic website. Sore muscles after yardwork? Ask them about their massage therapy!

Spring is also a time for new beginnings, and for one Lacey family, they are hoping this year will be the year they will finally get back into a home of their own. Two-and-a-half years ago the Van Winkles had to leave their home and everything they owned, because toxic black mold had caused their daughter Sophia, to become deathly ill with PANS disorder. The house had been sold to them with the mold undisclosed, the inspector at the time of purchase had not done due diligence, and lawyers would not help them. They were out a house and out of luck. The Lacey Firefighters Charity has started a fund called “Sophia’s Hope” for a new house to meet her medical needs. All donations to this fund are501 (c)(3) tax-deductible. To donate, visit the Mold2Miracle website. Thanks to a very generous anonymous donor all donations made from now until April 15 will be matched, up to $50,000.

360 Chiropractic
5101 Lacey Blvd. SE., Lacey
Monday – Thursday: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Friday: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday: Closed


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