Gardening season approaches

gardening back pain

I know with storm Imogen currently sweeping us off our feet the gardening season and warmer weather seems as far away as ever but it is only around 1 month now till the allotments start filling up with hideous postures sustained for a whole weekend and then people wondering why they have back pain on a Monday! So I’m giving a little bit of advice here for the green fingered among you with some tips and exercises.

Firstly if your winter has consisted of significantly less physical activity than the warmer months start doing some exercises now to build your fitness for gardening. Fitness for gardening might sound as useful as fitness for darts but both activities put your back into awkward and sustained postures that stronger, fitter muscles and more mobile joints can handle better.

Hip and ankle mobility are important to make bending less stressful on your back. Regular calf stretching and hip mobilising is a good idea for anyone who cannot do a deep squat with good technique. If you are actually very flexible then your biggest issue is likely to be “core stability” so exercises to strengthen the tummy muscles and glutes would be most beneficial.

When your back does hurt NHS Physio’s often recommend hugging your knees to your chest or touching your toes repeatedly from a standing position. Whilst both these exercises will give your muscles some stretching relief in the short term they are also contributing to an increased load on the discs of your lower back making them wear out quicker in the long term so don’t do them!

Some safer alternatives for back stretching include:

Prayer stretch

prayer stretch
Start on all fours, sit back onto heels and reach hands out in front, hold for 30 seconds.

Cat stretch

catcamel

and simply laying on your back with your legs supported by a chair.

egoscue static back

If these exercises aren’t enough to settle your back pain down after a few days then you probably need some actual hands on treatment like massage and manipulation. Having these types of chiropractic treatment every few months can also help keep back pain at bay by stopping the usual build up of muscle/joint stiffness over time.

Tennis Elbow…but I don’t play Tennis?

 

elbow pain

So tennis elbow is a relatively common condition even in the non sporty population. It refers to chronic inflammatory pain around the outside of the elbow (lateral epicondylitis). A similar problem can affect the inner side of the elbow and is termed golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis). Both conditions occur over a long period of time from overuse. The tendons around the elbow gradually become increasingly inflamed as the muscles pulling on them are being overused. Standard medical treatment involves anti-inflammatory medication and rest.

In some cases just stopping the aggravating activities for a while will settle it down. The most common aggravating activities besides sports like tennis and golf are; typing, writing, using a screwdriver, stirring and just generally gripping things a lot. It’s better for you to use ice for 10 mins at a time rather than ibuprofen etc (unless you like damaging your stomach, liver and kidneys!). Also gentle stretching of the overly tight forearm muscles should help.

For pain on the outside of the elbow/forearm (tennis elbow) gently make a fist with your thumb tucked into it and bend the wrist down to the floor with a straight arm. The lower of the 2 stretches in the picture below (open hand as in the picture is less of a stretch).

forearmstretch

The top stretch in the picture above is for golfer’s elbow and it is best to do it with the palm open as in the picture. Hold the stretch for up to 30 seconds and repeat several times per day along with the ice.

The most effective home (or gym based) exercise for any tendonitis is eccentric stretching. This means stretching the muscle/tendon whilst it is being lengthened under contraction. Normal static stretching involves lengthening the muscle under relaxation. Up to a point results improve with heavier loads (more than 1-2kg dumbbell) although you should always start light and progress gradually as pain allows! In the gym use a dumbbell, at home find something similar in weight and easy to grip (you can even use your other hand for resistance).

The key is to slowly lower the wrist of the painful elbow side under some form of resistance. The stretch should hurt a little bit but not a lot so be careful. 5-10 repetitions each day should be sufficient but it is vital that, especially if you are using a weighted object, you don’t contract the muscles to lift the wrist back to the start position. WTF you say? Yes really you need to use the other hand to lift the bad side wrist back to the start position so it can stay relaxed otherwise you are just going to aggravate the tendonsitis!

As with many musculoskeletal problems this simple home help advice may not be enough. Eccentrics are considered one of the most effective ways of resolving tendonitis. The trouble is they are a little complicated and if you do it wrong you will just make the injury worse. I have done my best to describe it here but if you are struggling it’s time to get the professionals to have a look and work their magic. Chiropractors are well trained in dealing with tendonitis and will not only massage the knots out of your muscles that cause the pain but also help loosen up the rest of your arms/neck and mid-upper back which are usually also part of the problem.

Call 07710791434 today and book your first appointment or book online. It shouldn’t take any more than 6-8 treatments to get you pain free.

400dpiLogo