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Chiropractic Care or Not, Yard and Garden Work is Still Painful Work

little boy gardening with grandfatherOur bodies are always changing. Who you are physically at 30 is not who you were at 20 and it definitely will not be who you are at 40, 50, or 60.

The older we get, the more effort it takes to stay loose and limber. The longer it can take to recover from strenuous exercise or those yard and garden chores that come with spring. The quicker we are to feel muscle aches and pains.

This is particularly true for those of us who spend most of our time being sedentary and then think we can just go gangbusters with the gardening tools and wheelbarrow without suffering any consequences.

One of our patients, who is months away from his 50th birthday, spent two days of his long weekend working a rotary hammer (the little brother of a jack hammer) helping his in-laws reduce a cottage chimney to rubble. Hours of hard manual labour. He took the time to stretch his shoulders and back every once in a while. His partners in this endeavour didn’t and teased him about taking breaks to exercise. But here’s the punch line – they were complaining about sore muscles a couple days later. He wasn’t.

Chiropractic care doesn’t make you Superman, or Superwoman

This time of year, it’s common for us to hear from patients who are suffering from similar aches and pains, often low back pain, as a result of getting busy with yard and gardening work. They sometimes express surprise that they have such aches and pains since they are already under Chiropractic care.

Chiropractic care is not a wonder drug. Yes, we do focus on correcting misalignments (subluxations) of the spine that can manifest symptoms such as pain, stiffness, and loss of mobility – the very same symptoms that can result from strenuous yard and garden work. But don’t be fooled. Always consider the underlying cause.

The aches and pains from yard and garden work are cries of complaint from worn and tired muscles, no different than what results from a hard workout at the gym. (Aside from those specific situations where someone may in fact have a spinal issue they have aggravated). It’s simple cause and effect that has little to do with whether or not you are under Chiropractic care.

This is certainly the case for another of our patients – a 40-something woman who often complains of shoulder and leg pain due to the strains of house and garden work she does for her clients. She does strength-training and Pilates to condition her body and is under our care, and still feels the consequences of too much strenuous activity.

The moral of these stories? No matter what kind of care you take of your spine and how healthy it may be, if you work your muscles hard, they will get sore and inflamed. The older you are, the more you might feel it and the longer it may take to recover.

Warm-up, stretch, repeat

Some of this discomfort can be worked out or prevented. Doing a few minutes of some kind of cardio activity to get the body warmed up beforehand can help. So too can stretching during and after the activity (here is WebMD’s advice on the merits of stretching and some common misconceptions). Another option is massage.

But some of that discomfort can only be addressed with rest and proper nutrition as the body repairs itself. That’s because when you work your muscles hard, the muscle tissue breaks down and suffers micro-tears. This is normal. The body responds by repairing that tissue and making it a little stronger than it was before.

Give your body what it needs to recover

That’s how weight-training builds muscle – the act of lifting those weights breaks down muscle tissue and the body responds by rebuilding it stronger than before. Any strenuous physical activity will have similar cause and effect. Soreness and stiffness is often a result of this natural process.

Ultimately, the most important thing you can do is listen to your body. The onset of aches and stiffness is its way of giving you a heads up. The solution can be as simple as taking a short break, changing your posture or grip on a tool, or doing that bit of stretching every little while.

Ignoring your body’s complaints and stubbornly pushing through may get the job done, but it will leave you stiff and sore and the only solution is to rest and practice proper self-care to aid in your recovery.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call!

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