While native Alaskans love going outdoors all year long, the summer is the perfect time of year to be outside. At Reger Physical Therapy, home to a highly skilled and experienced Anchorage physical therapist team, we work with many people who are struggling with aches and pains related to gardening and yard work. We’ve seen people hurt their backs, shoulders, hips, and knees–but fortunately, with a little preparation, many of these injuries are avoidable.
Do you have a green thumb or simply plan on doing a lot of yard work around the house this summer? To prepare your body for the demand of such work, be sure to give some of the following stretches a try.
It’s best to do these stretches after a brief 5 minute warm-up of light walking. Aim to hold each stretch for at least 60 seconds, and ideally up to 90 seconds for maximal effect.
- Quad stretch: Hold a table or wall for support with your right hand. Bend your left knee and hold the top of your left foot with your left hand. You should feel a stretch down the front of your thigh and your knee should be pointed down at the ground. Repeat on the other side.
- Hamstring stretch: Stand about 1-2 feet away from a low stool or step. Keeping your back and leg straight, place your right heel on the step (hold on to something sturdy for support). Stick your bottom back until you feel a stretch on the back of your upper right leg. Repeat on the other side.
- Hip stretch: Sit in a chair. Using your hands for help, place your right ankle on top of your left thigh, just above your knee. Gently press your right knee down. You should feel a stretch in your right hip/glute area. Repeat on the other side.
- Wrist stretch: Hold your right arm out in front of you as if you were saying stop. Using your left hand, gently bend the fingers back on your right hand; you should feel a stretch on the inside of your forearm. Then, still using your left hand, bend your right hand down so that your palm is facing you and your fingers are facing the floor. You should feel a stretch on top of your forearm. Repeat on the other side.
Additional Tips for Yard Work & Gardening Safety from Our Anchorage Physical Therapy Team
- Avoid bending over to lift bags of soil and other heavy items off the ground. Bend your knees to reach the object, keeping your chest up and back straight. Hold the object close to your body as you lift it, and avoid twisting your spine.
- Take breaks. Gardening and yard work can be extremely therapeutic, but it’s easy to get lost in the moment! Take a break at least once per hour so you can give your shoulders, back, hips, and knees a rest. Consider doing a few of the above stretches during your breaks.
- Drink water during frequently to avoid dehydration, and wear light colored clothing and wide-brimmed hat to avoid overheating and sunburn.
Are you feeling achy after a long weekend of work in the back yard? We invite you to call Reger Physical Therapy today at (907) 677-9112 to schedule an appointment with an Anchorage Physical Therapist. We’re proud to serve the Anchorage community Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.