Spring is in full swing and many of us are spending our weekends in the yard mowing, mulching, weeding, and gardening. Overall, this is a great workout but all that hard work can have its consequences with the constant bending, reaching, and pulling. While gardening is enjoyable, it is very important to stretch out your muscles before breaking out the tools! Back, upper legs, shoulders, chest, and wrists are all muscle groups used while we get our hands dirty. “A warm-up and cool-down period is as important in gardening as it is for any other physical activity," said Dr. Scott Bautch of the American Chiropractic Association's (ACA) Council on Occupational Health. "Performing simple stretches during these periods will help alleviate injuries, pain and stiffness." Here are a few tips to help ease the post gardening pain Garden Fitness Stretches · Before stretching for any activity, breathe in and out, slowly and rythmically; do not bounce or jerk your body, and stretch as far and as comfortably as you can. Do not follow the no pain, no gain rule. Stretching should not be painful. While sitting, prop your heel on a stool or step, keeping the knees straight. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in the back of the thigh, or the hamstring muscle. Hold this position for 15 seconds. Do this once more and repeat with the other leg. · Stand up, balance yourself, and grab the front of your ankle from behind. Pull your heel towards your buttocks and hold the position for 15 seconds. Do this again and repeat with the other leg. · While standing, weave your fingers together above your head with the palms up. Lean to one side for 10 seconds, then to the other. Repeat this stretch three times. · Do the "Hug your best friend." Wrap your arms around yourself and rotate to one side, stretching as far as you can comfortably go. Hold for 10 seconds and reverse. Repeat two or three times. Finally, be aware of your body technique while gardening. Kneel, don't bend, and alternate your stance and movements as often as possible to keep the muscles and body balanced. If you are reading this feeling the aches and pains from this past weekend’s yard work, apply an ice pack to the area for 20 mins. You can also give Atlantic Spine Clinic in Mount Pleasant, SC a call! We are always happy to see you and help you live a pain free lifestyle no matter what activities you engage in!