Ramping up into Spring

The sun is finally shining, we can go outside in just a shirt, the snow is off the ground and that means spring chores are here! For most of us this is a wonderful season, getting to yard work and getting the garden ready. We charge into the crisp air and sunshine, work the weekend away, hike and exercise. And then our bodies start speaking to us…stiff necks, sore backs, sciatic pain. Maybe we got a little soft over the winter months.

I am as keen as the next person to get out and put in a 10-hour day in the yard, but most of us are not ready for that yet. And while I love seeing all of my patients who didn’t need me as much in the winter, I like seeing them without severe discomfort from overdoing it in the yard.

So let’s talk about simple tips to get the body ready for spring.

First up, stretch before and after yard work. Simple stretches like touching your toes, bending side to side, and gentle twists from side to side can warm up both the neck and low back. We all have collected our favorite stretches over the years, so doing this before and after yard work is a great way to get started.

Next, limit activities. Any time we are doing one activity for more than 20-30 minutes we can create strains in unconditioned muscles. Having a plan like raking for 20 minutes, then pruning for 20 minutes, then weeding/tidying for 20 minutes breaks up an hour and creates less stress on the body. Also, it is important to check in with yourself every hour to determine if it is time to quit for the day or continue on. There is always something that is “almost finished” but somehow 2 more hours go by before we head in. There is always tomorrow or next weekend.

Third, build up slowly. Whether it is exercise or chores, we have to build up our bodies and muscles before we are ready to go full on. Generally we want to add time to our spring walking/running/yard work in small increments until we are up to our full activity level. Putting this into perspective, if at the beginning of the spring season you can handle 2 hours of waking/running/yard work a day before you start to get sore, the next day/weekend add 15-30 minutes. Then increase from there. This may not work for all activities perfectly, but gradual increases in activity from day to day or week to week will limit the severity of strains when they occur.

And despite all of this pre-thought and planning many of us still manage to overdo it on a weekend and start our week off with neck pain or low back pain and sciatica. When that occurs we are here to help. I am blessed to work with fantastic chiropractors who can put me back together if I overdo it. So hopefully you have a wonderful spring and stay strong and healthy, but if you need a little help to get the body in spring shape, please call and let us help.

Written by Dr. James Mayne, DC

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