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Moving Toward Better Health

The official blog of Konicki Schumacher Chiropractic


Pull Weeds Not Your Back

Posted by Dr. Tom Konicki
Dr. Tom Konicki
Dr. Thomas Konicki earned his B.S. in Biology at the University of Cincinnati and then went on to the Los Ange...
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in Self-Care/Prevention

Question: When spring arrives, I love to garden, but I always seem to hurt my back. How can I avoid this?

Answer: After a long winter of inactivity, we are all anxious to get outside and pull weeds, mow the lawn and plant flowers. Gardening can provide a great work-out, but with all the bending, twisting, reaching and pulling, your body may not be ready for exercise of the garden variety. The back, upper legs, shoulders and arms are all major muscle groups affected when using your green thumb.

A warm-up and cool-down is as important in gardening as it is for any other physical exercise. Simple stretches will help alleviate injuries, pain and stiffness. Try these following stretches before you begin to garden:

Before stretching, breathe in and out in a slow and rhythmic manner. Do not bounce or jerk when stretching. Stretch as far and as comfortably as you can. No pain, no gain does not apply to stretching. If stretching is painful, either you need to go easier or you are doing it wrong.

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 30 seconds. Now do this on the other leg.

Stand up, balance yourself and grab the front of your ankle from behind. Pull your heel toward your buttocks and hold the position for 30 seconds. Do this again with the other leg. If you can not reach your ankle you can try using a belt or a towel to reach around your ankle and pull towards your buttock.

While standing, weave your fingers together above your head with the palms up. Lean to one side for 20 seconds, then to the other. Repeat this stretch 3 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 20 seconds and reverse. Repeat 3 times.

Stand in a corner, but with your back facing the corner. Now lift your arms up and twist and lean against the wall. This looks like you will "assume the position" when being frisked by a police officer. Lean against the wall, stretching your torso for 30 seconds and then repeat the other side.

Above all, avoid bending over and twisting simultaneously. This particular movement often is responsible for your back "going out".

We tell our patients to move your toes and nose together to avoid bending and twisting.

When raking leaves, use a scissors stance: right foot forward and left foot back for a few minutes. Then reverse, putting your left forward and right foot back.

Bend at the knees, not at the waist, as you pick up leaves or grass. Make piles small to decrease the possibility of back strain.

Stretching after you garden or even during breaks is a good way to avoid back pain, stiffness and soreness.

If you end up with back pain or sore muscles, we recommend using ice for 20 minute sessions, several times a day.

If your pain persist, consider chiropractic care. Every spring, we successfully treat many patients who suffer from the aches and pains of gardening. And keep them going!


Dr. Tom Konicki is a board certified chiropractic orthopedist and has practiced for many years in South Dayton. You can reach him at www.kschiro.com or mail your questions to Ask the Chiropractor, 2165 Miamisburg-Centerville Road, Dayton, Ohio 45459

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