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23 Jul 2006

My back..
Hello Doc,

I am 52, female and in good health. I work hard physically in my garden digging, sawing and moving big heavy pots. I love to work my body hard as I feel with aging we should not retire to the stoep with a knee rug!! I walk 15 - 20 kilometres a week and am cardio vascularly fit. I have found that recently my lower back plays up a bit.
Two weeks ago I hurt it carrying a heavy stone bird bath. I felt it in my lower back slightly off centre. What could that be and should I be concerned. It still twinges during the day. Could a Chiropracter help this pain?
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Expert
ChiroDoc
ChiroDoc

01 Jan 0001

You're doing fine as far as keeping healthy and fit is concerned - but your back none the less is as susceptible to wrong movements that can cause pain and strain etc as anyone else.

With everyone in a rush to to get those jobs done in the garden as Spring approaches, there is a risk that enthusiastic gardeners may indeed injure themselves.
In an attempt to keep everyone healthy enough to actually enjoy sitting in their garden come summer time, the Chiropractic Association of South Africa (CASA) has identified some tips to help you get through those garden tasks safely.
· Don’t start with heavy-duty gardening – start with the lighter jobs, like mowing the lawn, and then move on. If you are pruning, use long handled secateurs and get as close to the plants or shrubs as you can!
· Don’t twist again – if you have to use a ladder to reach trees, hedges, large shrubs or fences – treat it like a dancing partner, always face it and move the ladder regularly. Always keep your shoulders, hips and knees pointing in the same direction. Make sure the ladder is firmly and safely planted in position and, wherever possible, have someone else standing at the base to steady the ladder and keep an eye on things!
· If laying a patio or pathway, keep the slab close to your body and bend your knees. It is sometimes better to bend one knee rather than both as your supporting leg gives you a position of strength.
· Dress appropriately – do not wear tight, constricting clothes.
· Vary your activity; spend no more than 20-30 minutes on any one thing and take regular breaks.
· If you are planning a trip to the garden center and buying heavy items such as bags of compost or pebbles – buy more small bags, rather than one big bag. Smaller items are easier and safer to carry. If there is no other option, ask someone else to help carry it to your car or bakkie and then when you get home, shovel out smaller quantities straight from the vehicle and put it into smaller containers.
· Treat gardening like normal exercise; you need to warm up and warm down!
· Pain is a warning sign do not ignore it – if you start to ache then stop what you are doing. If the pain continues see a CASA chiropractor for expert advice and care of your back.

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