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Chiropractic group suggests gardeners take steps to avoid aches

March 29, 2007

Before gardeners start their spring gardening regimens, the Maryland Chiropractic Association suggests they follow these health-conscious tips:

· Warm up with stretching exercises before starting and cool down with those same stretches when chores are done.

· Breathe in and out, slowly and rhythmically.

· Don't bounce or jerk your body and stretch only as far as you comfortably can.

· Don't follow the "no pain, no gain" rule.

· While sitting, prop heels on a stool or step keeping the knees straight. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in the back of the thigh or hamstring muscle. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat with the other leg.

· Stand up, balance yourself and grab the front of your ankle from behind, pulling heel toward your buttocks. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat with other leg.

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· While standing, weave fingers together above your head with palms up. Lean to one side for 10 seconds and then the other, three times.

· Wrap your arms around yourself and rotate to one side stretching as far as is comfortable. Hold for 10 seconds and reverse. Repeat two or three times.

· Be aware of your body technique, body form and correct posture while gardening. Kneel, don't bend, and alternate your stance and movements as often as possible to keep the muscles and body balanced.

It is important to stretch your muscles before reaching for your gardening tools, the MCA said in a prepared release. The back, upper legs, shoulders and wrists are all major muscle groups affected when you use your green thumb.

"Warm-up and cool-down stretches are an important part of gardening and can help protect against potential injury," said chiropractor Eric Johnson of Chiropractic Pain & Rehab in Hagerstown.

After the bulbs are all planted, if you feel muscle aches and pains and didn't complete the stretches, use a cold pack for the first 48 hours and a heat pack after 48 hours.

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