Gardening: Protecting your Knees & Elbows

Now that the warm months are upon us in Rochester New York, we’re all getting out to enjoy the weather. Along  with that comes more exercise. While some exercise is just for enjoyment others are part of “home maintenance”, like gardening. And YES, we’re beginning to see a LOT more of our clients from Rush to Greece as they come in after a long day of yard work.

As a Rochester-based Chiropractor, we see this year after year.
So, before we get into HOW to protect your knees & elbows, let’s better understand the joints themselves.

Knee Anatomy
While the knee IS a hinge joint, that description may misleadingly simple. It’s actually comprised of 3 bones and a complex series of cartilage and ligaments. The bones include Shin bone (Tibia), Thigh bone (Femur) and Knee cap (Patella). The ligaments that support the knee, the anterior cruciate ligament, posterior cruciate ligament, lateral collateral ligament, medial collateral ligament, patellar ligament, and the meniscus, all allow the bones to work together for pain free function.

Elbow Anatomy
Similar to the knee, the elbow is also a hinged joint comprised of 3 bones, Upper arm (Humerus), Lower arm (Radius and Ulna). The ends of each bone are covered with “elastic” cartilage which allows the joint to move freely when healthy. This joint is also held together with ligaments, forming a joint capsule. This capsule is effectively a fluid-filled sac which surrounds the joint with lubricant.

As you can see, both of these joints are complex and will likely undergo a lot of stress as we use them.

Preparation: Approach gardening like a sport 
Think about it:

  • Up and down on your knees
  • Digging (on your knees and feet with toes either under you or extended as you’re on the balls of your feet and knees)
  • Reaching (front and back)

It’s no wonder your knees and elbows are sore! If you decided to go running or participate in an obstacle course, the first thing you’d probably do is…

STRETCH:
Stretching your muscles and ligaments prior to getting into gardening prepares them just like you would for any other “sport”. As far as stretches and warm ups – walk around a bit, flex and extend your elbows and knees to loosen up the joints.

STRETCH AGAIN:
Once you begin to get warm or start sweating, stand up and stretch again. Your muscles and ligaments are now “warm”. That means they’ll naturally stretch a little farther. Repeat the same practice as before.

TAKE BREAKS:
Every 15-20 minutes, stand up, walk a few steps. Not only will this allow you to admire your handiwork but it allows your blood vessels to flow freely without the weight of your body on them. It also allows your knees and elbows to extend, naturally.

USE TOOLS
Small pads to kneel on or a cart to sit on and rest your elbow on may reduce stress.

KNOW YOUR BODY
“I’m not as young as I used to be.” (That one always makes me laugh because NO ONE is!) Age is not a reason to stop doing the things you enjoy. But it may require that you “cut yourself some slack”. Age, injury or a recent medical procedure will affect how you feel and may also change how quickly you recover from physical activity.

Most of our clients are active people who enjoy their lives and we enjoy the interaction we have with them. Normal wear and tear on our bodies is to be expected and maintaining your health is one of the best investments you can make. Routine chiropractic care can help you maintain your health, naturally. Learn more or make an appointment by contacting us at 585-321-3200.