Your Guide To Safe Summer Stretching
You might be ready for spring and summer activities, but is your body?
Spring into gardening, raking, and summer fun while keeping your body happy and healthy!
It’s important to complete your stretches to prevent injuries at work, but it’s also important to complete exercises outside of work to live a healthy lifestyle and promote wellness.
Stretching before and after gardening, raking, mowing the lawn, etc. helps to minimize muscle imbalances, prevent injury, and improve your ability to do what you like to do for longer periods of time.
Just like at work, try to avoid spending too much time in a static position and keep your body moving. If you spend a long time bent down or forward, complete a recovery stretch into extension or the opposite direction.
Remember to be mindful of body mechanics even when outside of work. Make sure to check the weight of items first before lifting them to ensure they aren’t too heavy. A bag of leaves can appear to be light, but if the leaves are wet or full of dirt, then the bag can be heavier than it appears.
Make sure to complete any bending movement by starting the motion at your hips, not your knees or back. Remember to push your butt back to unlock your hips while you squat or deadlift in order to bend forward and pick up objects. Try to avoid twisting at your back and instead keep objects close to your torso and turn by taking steps with your feet.
Keep in mind the tools you are using and make sure they are the proper length. If a tool is too long, then that can add extra weight that you have to lift. But if a tool is too short, then it can cause you to bend over more than necessary.
Don’t wear old shoes for yard work as this can cause foot injuries due to lack of adequate foot support.
Vibration of the lawn mower or weed whacker can increase inflammation in the body, so limit consecutive time performing these activities. Avoid pushing the lawn mower up a steep hill. Try to move across the hill instead to avoid the additional force on your back.
It is best to warm up the body before activities with dynamic stretches. Take a brisk 5- to 10-minute walk around your yard or neighborhood to get the blood pumping.
To complete a dynamic warm-up, move through your range of motion in a controlled and pain-free manner to feel a slight stretch or pull on your muscles. Try not to use momentum to power you through.
1. Arm swings – Squeeze shoulder blades together
2. Butt kicks – Bring heels as close to your glutes as you can
3. Side steps – In a mini squat, step sideways, keeping feet facing forward
4. Sumo squat to forward fold
5.Standing thread the needle
Cool down the body and decrease sore muscles after activities with static stretches. These help with recovery, flexibility, and keeping your body ready to go for next time!
For static stretches, hold stretches for at least 30 seconds to get the most benefit. If you start to feel less of a stretch, then push further into it. Don’t push through pain and don’t bounce.
1. Wrist flexor and extensor stretch
2. Wall sags – Standing lumbar extension at wall
3. Quad stretch – Next to a surface in case you need to hold on
4. Modified puppy pose – Hinge forward at hips, slight bend at the knees
5. Wall pec and biceps stretch – Against wall, turn body out, turn back in to release stretch
By Kaeli Mace, PT, DPT