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gardening ergonomics

Gardening Ergonomics

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gardening ergonomics

It’s that time of year again. Time to exchange snow shovels and winter boots with gardening tools and watering cans. While the warmer weather brings on a new sense of happiness and energy, we need to remember to use proper body mechanics and follow general safety to avoid muscle aches and potential serious injuries. The number one injury associated with gardening is low back pain.

Here are a few tips to make your gardening experience more enjoyable and less painful.

LIFTING:
Lifting heavy objects such as bags of soil, planters and mulch improperly can lead to low back strains and/or sciatic pain. Other options include moving half of the soil/mulch to a separate pot before lifting the bag or planting in to smaller pots that are easier to maneuver. Using a garden cart or wheelbarrow can also assist with moving heavy gardening materials. Remember to lift with your legs, avoid simultaneous lifting and twisting and keep heavier objects close to your body to avoid injury.

PLANTING:
Prepping the soil can also be a difficult and tedious task requiring prolonged forward bending and frequent changes in position. Try prepping the planting bed by using long-handled gardening tools. Once the soil is ready, plant from a kneeling position using either a kneeling stool or a cushion. Remember to avoid twisting at the spine. Those with known chronic low back pain may want to consider planting in to pots, flower boxes or raised flower beds to avoid further injury.

WEEDING:
Most people dislike weeding their gardens and flower beds. Options to reduce the need to do so include using plants as ground cover or using mulch in your flower beds to minimize weed growth. If using a weed spray, look for bottles that have a sprayer hose to allow you to stand upright while treating your problem areas.

MOWING THE LAWN:
Another task that most people find tedious. When able, use an electric start mower. The action of pulling a cord to start your mower is the most common cause of low back injuries. If you must use a pull start mower, remember to bend at your knees and maintain the natural curve of your spine while reaching for the cord. Make sure you tighten your abdominal muscles just before pulling the cord in order to support your spine. If using a push mower, remember to maintain proper upright posture and take breaks as needed.

Remember to listen to your body. Take frequent breaks and change positions when you start to experience aching, cramping or fatigue. Stay hydrated and wear sunscreen. If you do happen to experience low back pain or any other injury, remember to contact your physical therapist. They can help alleviate your symptoms as well as educate you on proper body mechanics.

gardening

GARDENING STRETCHES
Stretching before you start gardening can help you from experiencing pain later. Here are some stretching techniques to help get you started!

1.) Fold your hands together and turn your palms away from your body, but this time extend your arms overhead. You should feel the stretch in your upper torso and shoulders to hand. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.

2.) Place your hand just above the back of the elbow and gently push your elbow across your chest toward the opposite shoulder. This is a stretch for the upper back and shoulder. Stretch both the right and left arms. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.

3.) Raise one arm overhead. Bend the elbow. Place the opposite hand on the bent elbow and gently push the elbow back further. This is a stretch for the triceps. Stretch both the right and left arms. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.

4.) Extend an arm in front of you, making sure the elbow is completely straight. With your palm down, take the opposite hand and bend in the wrist downward. Then turn the palm up, and stretch the wrist backwards. This stretches the forearm and wrist muscles. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.

The warm-up exercises were developed by professional hand therapists who are occupational and physical therapists specializing in the treatment of the hands, arms and shoulders. These exercises and tips have been designed to supplement more commonly known gardening safety practices that concentrate only on preventing back injuries.
For more information visit: www.asht.org

TMJ Pain

Physical Therapy Helps With TMJ Pain

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TMJ Pain

Physical Therapy can help those suffering with pain associated with the facial region, head, and/or neck, including those struggling with Temporomandibular (TMJ) disorders.

The temporomandibular joint or TMJ, is a complex joint located in front of each ear. It is responsible for allowing mouth opening and closing. When the TMJ is not working correctly, you may experience jaw pain, clicking, popping, or locking of the joint. You may also experience headaches, neck pain, sinus pain, dizziness, and ear ringing or pain. TMJ pain or Temporomandibular Dysfunction (TMD) is not strictly limited to the jaw, jaw, it can also be influenced by activities, positioning, or alignment of the head and neck.

COMMON CAUSES

  • Excessive grinding or clenching of teeth
  • Joint stiffness
  • TMJ Disorders
  • Poor Posture or Ergonomics
  • Other neck conditions including pain and headache
  • Stress and muscle tension

TMJ Pain

PHYSICAL THERAPY TREATMENT FOR TMJ
Physical therapy treatment includes an in depth evaluation of the structures of the cervical spine, jaw joints and head. Treatment could include manual therapy techniques for the spine, jaw and soft tissues, exercise for the jaw and neck, and modalities. Evaluation focuses on the relationship of the muscles, joints and nerves of the jaw, head, neck and face and how they relate to each other. Manual therapy may be used to improve range of motion and mobility of the jaw and neck. Exercise is designed to restore the proper balance of the spine and head to take unnecessary stress off of sensitive tissues and to support the body so it can perform the activities of daily living efficiently and comfortably. Modalities will decrease the short-term discomfort and joint irritation. We will look at how you interact with your environment to see if there are activates you preform that put increase stress on your body which could cause increased pain. Most importantly, in addition to these techniques, the patient is provided with a home exercise program to aid in symptom reduction. Each treatment plan is based on a patient’s individual needs and the therapist, patient, and referring practitioner work as a team to reach the patients goals.

This information was written by Rehab Associates of Central Virginia, an outpatient physical therapy group with 13 locations in Central Virginia. Their physical therapists have advanced degrees in specialty orthopedic care from head to toe. From musculoskeletal headaches to lower back pain to heel pain syndrome, they can help take away your pain and help you return to normal activity. For more information click here.