Gardening and Food Preparation

How to Avoid Aches and Pains

There are obvious points to the positive impact of good nutrition and physical recovery from injury.  However, let's stretch (no pun intended!) into the physical therapy realm of how some of us obtain our food (summer in Maine=gardening) to food preparation.

First, while snow shoveling conjures images of an aching back, for many so does gardening.  Here are some tips to avoid the aching back, neck and shoulders:

  • While weeding, planting and harvesting, instead of bending forward, get close to your plants by kneeling, standing in a lunge position or 1/2 lunge position and hinge forward at your hips or bend forward at the hips and squat down.
  • Pull in those lover abs!  Imagine that you are zipping up a tight pair of jeans and keep you abs engaged as you work.
  • Take breaks with frequent changes in position.
  • Balance the forward position that gardening requires by standing up tall, gently arching back, reaching your arms up overhead and looking towards the sky-all while taking a deep breath of course!

Secondly, food preparation can cause some postural and repetitive strain.  Here are a few tips for the kitchen:

  • To avoid low back strain while standing at the kitchen sink, open the cabinet under the sink and place one foot inside.  Get in close to the sink and hinge forward at your hips instead of slouching forward at the low back.
  • You can alternate feet under the sink.
  • Standing at the kitchen counter while cutting up the fresh fruits and veggies is a good time to work on postural awareness.  Tuck in your chin, gently lift you breast bone, slightly pull shoulder blades back, pull in the lower abs and have a bend in the knees.
  • Perhaps not with the sharp knives, but with stirring and mixing try using your non-dominant hand.  This reduces repetitive strain to your dominant side while also building neural pathways to your brain, strengthening movement patterns related to your non-dominant side.

Eat well!