caring for the farmer/gardener’s body (or the blogpost my PT suggested I write)

Today, I had my last physical therapy appointment for a shoulder issue that had resurfaced.  When I say “resurfaced,” I should explain that it had been nagging at me for 18 months before I finally did something about it.  Needless to say, it was in much need of help when I asked for a referral for physical therapy.

As I lay on the table and talked with my PT today, we discussed ways I could be taking care of my body so that I could be a stronger farmer/gardener.  Given that I plan to spend more time outside than inside once Daylight Savings kicks in this weekend, it seems like a good time to highlight some “basic training” ideas to prepare for full-on farming and gardening in the weeks and

self portrait--the farmer's body

months ahead.

  • Eat healthily–can’t say enough about this one; after being diagnosed with a gluten/grains intolerance, I appreciate how important it is pay attention to which foods serve as fuel and which are depleting me of strength
  • Drink water–we offer our seedlings this sustaining force from the minute we plant them in the ground but don’t always do the same for ourselves; stay hydrated
  • Stretch–once you get warmed up, take the time to stretch out those tight areas before you begin some heavy work (forking mulch into the wheelbarrow)
  • In your daily workouts, focus on core strengthening so you lift, carry, push and pull from that area instead of overworking joints/muscles
  • Take breaks–I have learned that I am not any less of a farmer if I take breaks between activities so I don’t overdo my shoulder
  • Work slowly and steadily–remember the tortoise?  Slow and steady won that race–be easy on your body, moving too quickly or with jerking movements is sure to cause an issue
  • Share the load–invite others to join you in the fields, and if no one’s around (or your tween refuses to help spread compost because it’s “way gross”), use tools/equipment that will lighten the burden–my wheelbarrow is my favorite and most used farming tool
  • Wear sunscreen or SPF clothing–while vitamin D is very important, it’s not a good idea to spend a full day outside without some sort of coverage

After spending time doing all those things you love to do outside:

  • Rehydrate–with water, not an adult beverage
  • Which leads me to my father’s old adage–a beer and 3 advil will take care of any muscle aches–alcohol has inflammatory properties so lay off the beer and drink something with antioxidants
  • If you take a hot shower or bath, don’t forget to apply cold for to any sore spots afterward; I find that a cold back on my shoulder before bed keeps it from hurting the next day
  • Moisturize those hands and other body parts that may be blistered, dry or raw.  I like to add a couple of drops to vitamin E
    self portrait--the farmer's hand

    oil and olive oil to my lotion

  • Rest, rest, rest

Most importantly, listen to your body–nurture it as you would your plants, fruits, and veggies.  Tend to it gently and you will reap great benefits.  If not, I’ll be glad to refer you to a great PT.

 

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