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Posted on 03-31-2011

As this Chicago chiropractor watches springtime approaching, many people will spend more time outside gardening which provides a great workout, but with all the bending, twisting, reaching and pulling, your body may not be ready for exercise of the garden variety. The outdoors can be enjoyable, but it is important to stretch your muscles before beginning this task, just like any other physical activity! The back, upper legs, shoulders, and wrists are all major muscle groups affected when using your green thumb.

As both an expert Chicago chiropractor and gardener, I recommend a 5 minute warm up and cool down period when gardening or doing other various lawn maintenance tasks.

The following stretches will help to alleviate muscle pain:

Garden Fitness Stretches
• Before stretching for any activity, breathe in and out, slowly. Do not bounce, 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.
• 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 as often as possible to keep the muscles and body balanced. This may take some time to correct, but every time you realize you're in an awkward position, just change position and soon it won't take any extra thought at all!

When the Bulbs Are Planted...
If you already feel muscle aches and pains and did not complete the warm-up and cool-down stretches, there are ways to alleviate the discomfort. Apply a cold pack on the area of pain for the first 48 hours. If that doesn't work, it sounds like a trip to our Chicago chiropractic office on the northwest side will work for you!

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