Summertime is the peak of gardening season, and whether you consider this a pleasant pastime or necessary chore, it is easy to forget that this can put a serious strain on your body.
Recent studies show the most common source of neck and back pain during the warmer months is largely due to yard work.
Gardening often involves digging, lifting and moving heavy objects while standing in unfamiliar positions that can cause pain or injury. The aches and pains can be easy to overlook until the pain problem escalates.
Instead of relying on prescription drugs, expensive treatments or attempting to “push” through the pain, here are some easy ways to relieve neck and back pain often associated with gardening:
Take Precautions and Frequent Breaks
Gardening might not be a contact sport, but you should prepare for it like any other athletic activity. To minimize muscle strain, warm up your muscles and stretch before and after yard work. Prepare beforehand by keeping cushions nearby to put under your knees, and work with long-handled tools to encourage better posture and avoid slouching. Frequently switch up activities to prevent repetitive-motion injuries, and don’t overwork yourself. Set attainable goals for each day and limit activity to 20-30 minutes at a time to give the muscles much-needed breaks.
Manage Muscle Pain with a Remedy from the Garden
To ease muscle aches and stiffness, try a pain-relieving gel or cream that comes straight from nature’s garden. Arnica montana, a type of mountain daisy, is harvested each summer in the French Alps. Arnica is the active ingredient in Arnicare, a pain reliever that can be taken as oral pellets that dissolve under the tongue or used topically as a gel or cream. Arnicare can help ease lower back pain and muscle stiffness that often results after a long day of tending to your garden. It can also relieve swelling from injuries and reduce discoloration from bruising.
Grow Pain-Relieving Foods
Science is proving that certain foods can relieve pain as well as, or sometimes better than, drugs. Grow your own medicinal garden to help naturally relieve pain:
- Mint: the menthol in peppermint helps prevent muscle spasms.
- Edamame: according to a study from Oklahoma State University, soy protein in edamame can reduce knee pain.
- Hot Peppers: an ingredient called capsaicin in hot peppers stimulates nerve endings and depletes a chemical that relays pain signals.
- Ginger: this root has anti-inflammatory effects and can help calm muscle pain and ease arthritis pain.
- Turmeric: like ginger, turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to a substance called curcumin. It can also protect the body from tissue destruction and joint inflammation as well as preserve good nerve cell function.