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Careful! Gardening season is upon us

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Monday, April 26, 2010
— Oop!



Ahh, the sounds of spring.

After months of sitting on the couch, people of a certain age—OK, people our age—tend to overdo it when they finally get a day to work in the yard.

It’s just that it’s so warm, so sunny and just so marvelous outside, we can’t help ourselves.

The result?

Funny noises indicating something hurts.

Chiropractors and physical therapists see it every spring.

“People are coming off a pretty inactive time in their lives; they’ve been pretty sedentary all winter,” said Dr. Rick Behncke of Douglas & Mork Chiropractic Office, Janesville. “Then they’re out there raking, scraping paint, pruning overhead, trying to do it all in one afternoon.”

The next day they’re at urgent care or sitting in Behncke’s office.

It’s such a common phenomenon people have written books and devoted websites to it.

Consider, developed by Lars Hundley, a master composter and president of Clean Air Gardening Supply, an online store that specializes in environmentally friendly lawn and garden supplies.

He enlisted personal trainer Kimberly Ridout to create a six-week “get ready to garden” routine that starts with stretches and basic exercises, and, at the end of six weeks, has gardeners doing bar bell curls.

What does Hundley do to get ready for the gardening season?

“I’m actually a cyclist, so I’m relatively fit already,” Hundley said.


For his part, Hundley recommends Jeffrey P. Restuccio’s books, including “Get Fit Through Gardening: Advice, Tips, and Tools for Better Health Featuring the Unique Exercise Plan to Save Your Back and Knees.”

Using Restuccio’s tips, you can get seriously fit while you garden. But he also offers solid tips, exercises, stretches and tool recommendations for those of us who simply want to work safely.

The basics include stretch, take your time and don’t do the same thing the same way all day long.

For those who like advice closer to home, Behncke offered these tips:

-- Get the muscles and blood moving.

“Take a walk around the block before doing anything,” Behncke said.

-- Stretch.

-- Take your time.

“You’re bending, turning, twisting and reaching differently than you do during the week,” Behncke said.

Loosen up those muscles gradually.

-- Put yourself in a position of “mechanical advantage.” If you’re planting bulbs, arrange your supplies in front of you instead behind you, where you’ll have to be reaching out and around to get at them.

-- Watch those repetitive motions. Switch sides of your body and switch often.

-- Think before renting, buying and lifting.

Yes, renting a dethatcher is a good idea. Your lawn will thank you. However, your back won’t unless you have someone at home to help you get in and out of the car.

A new brick patio is an excellent spring project. But unless you want to have an excellent spring visit at the chiropractor’s office, lift with your knees, not your back, and consider spreading out the project over two weekends.

-- Don’t try to do it all in one day: The trimming, raking, mowing and general tidying will all be there tomorrow.

Top ten things to avoid while gardening—or doing other yard work—from Jeffrey P. Restuccio’s book, “Get fit through Gardening.” For more information, go to

1. Not stretching before and after you garden.

2. Maintaining the same stance (right or left) all day long.

3. Repeating the same motion—weeding, raking or hoeing—over and over.

4. Working for hours without resting.

5. Not preparing for spring gardening—ease into it.

6. Maintaining a yard or garden too big for your needs or personal enjoyment.

7. Working with a jerking motion or chopping, up and down, motion.

8. Exacerbating a previous back or knee problem using poorly designed, short-handled tools.

9. Using pulling not pushing motions while working.

10. Holding your breath while you work.

Last updated: 1:20 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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