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updated: 6/5/2012 5:17 PM

Enjoy gardening minus the aches and pains

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  • Joseph Fojtik, MD

      Joseph Fojtik, MD

 
Joseph Fojtik, MD

It is that time of year again, where the sun is shining, the weather is warm and the gardening tools are out for spring. The month of June is a gardener's dream. Gardening is a choice that is supposed to be an enjoyable past time. However, the aches and pains attached with gardening can be strenuous on the body. According to the American Chiropractic Association, 31 million Americans experience low-back pain at any given time. Avoid becoming a statistic by following the clear-cut guidelines below that will keep you pulling weeds without pulling muscles.

 Be sure to warm up your muscles by taking the time to stretch. Prevent soreness by going for a leisurely walk and moving your arms in controlled circular motions to stretch out your shoulders.

 While lifting, it is important to bend your knees and keep your back straight to avoid injuring your lower back. Avoid twisting while lifting to reduce strain on your spine. If possible, steer clear of heavy lifting. Use a wheelbarrow to transport heavy objects.

 Protect your knees by kneeling instead of squatting. Place a kneepad or towel beneath your knees to give extra cushion while engaging in weeding and pruning.

 Change up your gardening tasks. If you are continuously bent over digging, swaying your arms back and forth repetition for long periods of time can be harmful to your joints.

 Take frequent breaks. It is vital to keep your body hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Water lubricates joints and replenishes your body.

 Finish your gardening experience the way you started, by warming up. Protect your muscles by cooling your body down with light stretching, and walking.

While we cannot anticipate pain in our lives, we can learn to manage pain and take responsibility for our health and well-being. Keep these tips in mind to assure your gardening experience will remain a relaxing, pain free activity.

Joseph Fojtik, M.D. Internal Medicine and a member of Advocate Medical Group. Dr. Fojtik's office is located in Crystal Lake. Dr. Fojtik attended University of Illinois Medical School, completed his internship at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago, and performed his residency at Evanston and Northwestern .