RYH Episode 17: Gardening With Your Body In Mind

It’s that time of year (at least here in Canada), where we reap the last of the harvest, pack up the gardens and put them to bed for the winter. Your body, while genius, does not care which season you’re gardening in, it still needs you to be conscious of it as you work. On today’s episode, I’m sharing the quick tips that will save you from the injuries I commonly see in my practice during this time of year.

For more Gardening Tips for a Healthy Spine, check out this blog post.

Get In Your Garden!

Finally the weather is warming up and many people are getting ready to get their hands in the dirt to plant some seedlings, flowers and have some fun in their garden! Working outdoors in your garden and yard is a great form of physical activity, even better if it’s something you are passionate about. However every year people come into the practice because they have inevitably irritated their body or  strained a muscle somehow! To protect your body and avoid injury, consider some of these tips when stepping out to get your garden started this season:

  1. While mowing the lawn, keep your head up and stand directly behind the mower so you can keep your hips and shoulders in line with your spine. Push the mower uphill rather than pulling. Always use both hands rather pushing  or twisting with one.
  2. When working in the dirt, crouch down, sit on a stool, or squat instead of bending at the waist which can strain the joints in the low back.
  3. Bend your knees when lifting anything so that you can use the strength of your legs.
  4. Keep yard waste bags close to your body while lifting them. 
  5. Hold a rake with one hand at shoulder height, one hand at waist level and walk or drag the pile.

Most importantly, vary your tasks and take breaks when necessary.  Avoid staying in prolonged postures involving the lower back and neck.

Your best bet for protecting your back? Consider regular Chiropractic care! Waiting until symptoms appear before taking care of your body often can make the problems worse, ultimately causing them to take longer to heal. Chiropractors assess your posture and spinal joints to ensure they are moving properly and that your body is physically balanced. The results people experience from regular spinal care are profound, and the increases in their quality of life measurable….which allows you to keep playing in your garden or in any other hobby you enjoy! 

Balanced?

Recently I was sitting on the patio of my local café, reading, planning my day. When it was time to get started on the responsibilities I had, I joked with an acquaintance how reluctant I was to get to working, that it was so lovely sitting on the patio! His comment was brilliant:

“Give yourself a break. Enjoy the day. Whatever you have to do will all work out in the end, and if it hasn’t worked out yet – it’s not the end!”

I encourage you to balance time in your life for movement, healthy eating, nurturing relationships, getting enough rest, and playing.  You need all of these things in your life because you are a whole person, and because being healthy requires attention to all these areas.

We all have work responsibilities, family obligations and personal objectives. The key to healthy living is in balancing all of them every week, sometimes every day, and giving ourselves permission to do so.

Are the different facets of your life balanced? 

Sure, there are times when some of our responsibilities dominate, when we must focus specifically on doing the best we can to manage everything.

Some days, weeks, months are more balanced than others. I think it’s important to look at the larger picture of our lives when reflecting on this topic.  When raising young children, juggling work or changes in career, helping aging parents, moving or renovating a property, life can become a little overwhelming, and sometimes very unbalanced. I can say this from personal experience, and from working with people for so many years.

Even during these stressful times we can always become aware, and try to make small changes if that’s all we can make. Do the best you can – a little will always be better than none at all.

If things are seem to be a little unbalanced in your life ask yourself…

Is it a temporary situation given the stage of life you are in, or a constant challenge?

What can you do differently? 

Do you need to shift your priorities? 

How can you make a change, and what do you need to get started?

Where can you create more time in your life to support these other wishes you have?

Change can only happen if you choose to do so. Think about these questions, then act!

Ask Your Kids

Photo on 2012-09-30 at 19.53 #4Parenting is not easy. My sons teach me far more than I teach them, and I think I will be saying this for many years. They are also my greatest source of joy, and developing them into amazing human beings is by far the biggest accomplishment I am working on.

I believe we create independent children by giving them freedom to make choices, within limits of course, while providing them guidance, support, encouragement, and tons of love along the way. If we empower them to have some control over their lives, I believe they are more accountable for their actions and can feel more proud of themselves with what they achieve.

To start this summer, I decided to ask my sons for their thoughts about how they should spend their time.  My goal was to figure out what they wanted to do, rather than just imposing my ideas on them, and to give us a framework to plan our time.

I gave them this simple list of questions to answer.  To be honest, reading their responses moved me to tears.  Sure, I was reminded of their interests, and I learned a few new ones that had developed, but I was also completely inspired by some of their comments and very proud of the people they are becoming.

Obviously, it goes without saying that communication is the key in any relationship and the ones we have with our children is no different.  Giving them opportunities to express themselves with you will always succeed, and sometimes written communication  can offer different insights than verbal alone. If you’re connecting with your children, start now.

I mentioned this exercise to a few parents in the practice and they asked for a copy, so here it is…

school’s out!

Detox Your Home…Why?

Chemicals have replaced bacteria and viruses as the main threat to health. The diseases we are beginning to see as the major causes of death in the latter part of (the 1900’s) and into the 21st century are diseases of chemical origin.”                                                                   – Dr. Dick Irwin, Toxicologist, Texas A&M University

We live in a chemical world. Over 5000 chemicals have entered daily use since WW II, many of them found in the products we use every day to clean and beautify our bodies and our homes. Scientists are increasingly concerned that long-term low-level exposures to chemicals create a variety of health risks. They also worry that we do not yet know the impact of living with the cocktail of chemicals found in household air and dust.  Testing for human health effects is normally done on single chemicals. However, in the real world, we are exposed to a daily variety of chemicals which create ‘chemical stress’ in the body and impact cellular function.  Quite simply, if you are breathing, absorbing, ingesting a variety of chemicals regularly, your body has to work harder to keep you functioning well.

Many people assume that “if it was bad for us, the government would not allow it to be sold” but we know that regulatory bodies are slow to act. Legislation governing pest control products was only amended in 2002, after over 30 years without change and review of pest control products is just beginning. Health Canada has recently added some chemicals to their ‘hot list’ of chemicals not permitted in cosmetics, but those ingredients had not been used for years and were added for the sake of ‘clarity’. Health Canada has been slow to restrict many chemicals currently in use, including identified or suspected carcinogens, hormone disrupters and reproductive toxins. The process of evaluating and regulating all the chemicals we use in our daily lives is going to be slow. And past experiences in regulating lead in gasoline, tobacco and lawn pesticides tell us that the companies which produce these products won’t take attempts to limit their use quietly.

In choosing the products we use on our bodies and in and around our homes WE are the ones in control. We can make informed choices for the sake of our own health and the health of our families. And in most cases, what is less toxic for us is also less toxic for the natural environment.

Making the move to less toxic products can seem overwhelming… but it doesn’t need to happen all at once and is likely easier than you think! Whether you make changes in a few areas or in many, you will be making positive choices for your life.

Ready to start? Grab one of the many books from the practice or keep watch for more posts with ideas and solutions.  Share your ideas with us too! Some of the most useful tips I have gained have come from others and not out of a book…