Gardening: Mind Your Back!

May 8, 2008 at 11:10 am

Some handy tips from one of our osteopaths, Rebecca Winsor:

The gardening season is coming up, at least the digging season in preparation. Here are a few warm up exercises that should help you get into it with a swing…

1) Pelvis & hip circles: Circle the pelvis several times while standing feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, feet pointing forwards. Remember not to stick your bottom out. In the same position rest the foot lightly on the forefoot and gently circle the hip and knee outwards and then inwards. Repeat left and right.

2) Arm swings: Standing in the same position, swing the arms forwards and backwards a few times. Then swing the arms around the body alternating circles to the left and right.

3) Shoulder circling: Again standing in the same position with arms hanging down circle the shoulder joints, doing a few circles from front to back and then a few in the reverse direction.

4) Shallow squats: These help strengthen the thighs for the digging position. It is better to bend the knees for the digging position rather than bending forward with knees straight. Standing in the same position slowly bend the knees sinking into a shallow squat, while keeping your back straight and bottom tucked under. Hold the position for 10 secs then slowly straighten into the standing position. Try and increase the length of time you hold the squat. Your muscles shouldn’t tremble while you do it, this is a sign they are weak, and you should only build up the length of time gradually.

A common cause of hip and lower back restriction and pain is bending and twisting with the legs straight.When digging or lifting, keep the knees bent and as far as possible keep the trunk and hips in line. In other words, turn your whole body with the feet rather than twisting at the waist. Any movement of one part of the body away from the midline increases the load on the lower back muscles. Bending down and then twisting from the waist particularly affects the alignment of the hip.

If you don’t follow the recommendations above and get into trouble, you may consider seeing an osteopath.  People often think that a visit to the osteopath involves a lot of clicking and crunching. However one of my favourite techniques Balanced Ligamentous Technique is gentle non invasive and effective. It can be used to free up and align most joints such as spine, knee, hip, wrist, foot, jaw, and ribs. It involves the osteopath positioning the patient and the patient holding a position that exaggerates the direction in which the particular joint has been strained, in other words, following the ease of movement of the joint. This alters the tension in the ligaments around that joint, allowing it to take up a better alignment. The patient might also have to use a breathing technique at the point of alignment. Afterwards the range of movement should be much improved on testing and the pain in the surrounding muscles will be eased.

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