Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Time to Pull Your Weeds and Not Your Back!

It is finally here.  After our wonderful St. Louis hibernation, we are with much pleasure, able to get in our gardens and yards.  As expressed by almost every patient, it feels great to put fingers in the dirt and pamper our outside.  

One thing we all must be mindful of is that we did hibernate quite a bit this year.  And, as we start to work in our yards and gardens, we all have to remember a few simple rules to avoid injury.

1.Stretch!  Warm up with Light stretches for your back, neck and arms.  Even take a brisk walk to loosen your muscles.

2. Know your limitations and your strengths.  Do Not Overexert.  We all want it to look beautiful in one day but realistically that is what causes the pain and injuries.  Vary the tasks when you work outside. 

3. Avoid bending straight over.  Get closer to whatever it is you are doing whether it be weeding or planting.  Kneel or sit on the ground to avoid problems.

4. Lift dirt and plants by letting your arms, legs and thighs carry the load. Bend and straighten at the knees instead of the back and hips.  Lift the load close to your body and your center of gravity.  The key is to make a few extra trips and distribute the loads.

5. Use long handled tools to give you leverage. 

6. When using a ladder make sure you are facing it.  Whatever the task, make sure it is directly in front of you to avoid the leaning and reaching.  Not only can this cause back injuries but can increase the risk of falls.

7. Take frequent breaks!!!!  Walk around the yard to give yourself a break.

8. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.  Remember protecting your feet with support helps to protect your back.

9. Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.

10. Be aware of your body technique, form and posture while working outside. It can be the repetitive motion of bending, lifting and reaching that causes the injury to the muscles of winter.

Gardening and yard work can be one of the great pleasures of summer.  Take your time.  Vary your task. And most importantly, if your pain persists, call the office for an appointment.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Couch Potato to Yard Work After this Fun St. Louis Winter

This winter has impacted all of us in many ways as we hunkered down to avoid the cold.  We nested, we ate and we avoided exercise because it was just too cold.  Granted, there are a few devoted souls out there that weathered the elements to workout but the majority of us enjoyed the nesting.  

It is time before we begin the yard work, sports and summer activities to get our bodies back in shape and our minds in a “fit” direction.

So how to achieve the goals of a healthy mind and a healthy body……..

If it has been a considerable amount of time since you extricated your buttocks from the couch you might want to start slow before you spend money on exercise equipment or a gym membership.  Begin by getting off the couch and walking.  Remember you actually know how to do this!  Start by setting your goals to four days a week for 30 minutes at a time.  If you can’t do 30 minutes, do 15.  If you are unable to do 15 minutes without becoming winded, you need to see your medical doctor for evaluation.  

When you start a walking program, do not push yourself, walk briskly without getting too winded.  What is most important is just moving.  Don’t worry about how far or how fast you are going, just get started moving your body. If you push yourself too much you may injure yourself which defeats the whole purpose and puts you back on the couch and in my office.

Start by walking on Monday.  If you start your week off right, the rest of it tends to fall in line.  Try your best to at least go every other day.  When you skip too many days in a row, you tend to lose the momentum.  Remember putting your feet outside your door wither to walk or to the gym is the toughest part of the process.

We are a society that tends to sit on our buttocks for most of the day.  That allows our “metabolic engines” to sit at a very low idle.  So exercise gives you Energy! It gets your “engine” running.  Exercise also keeps you SANE!!  It is motivating to know that with exercise you can feel calmer, happier and energized.  The long-term benefits are for your heart, strengthening your immune system, increasing your capacity to enjoy the things you love to do, and most important increasing your circulation.  It has been shown that by increasing your circulation with aerobic exercise we can increase the blood flow to the brain and thus increase and maintain our memory.

The goal is to move.  Just start and keep working your way into more.  Your mind, body and heart will thank-you.