Monday, May 18, 2009

The painful Gardener

There's nothing like going out to get your hands dirty in the garden, hunched over, one hand supporting your body, the other working frantically against the time it takes for your back to call it quits. Your wrists complain with a increased ache that climbs up your trembling arm and you push your back into the opposite of an arch, trying to stretch that dull ache out, just to hold off a little longer until you get this weeded/planted/pulled.

You know your limits and so does your body (maybe your body knows a little more of your limits but tolerates your stubborness for only so long) and then it hits. That slow uprighting position you take when your either on your knees (heads out of gutter - thank you!) or standing up, finishing the job. Your hands immediately go to your back and you arch it, but you're not really paying any attention to the pain that hammers up your spine and right down your sciatic nerve. No! you're patting yourself on the back, a brief nod to the good day and time well spent on your garden. Your plants will thank you later.

Too bad your back won't.

Isn't that when we treat our back to a nice hot shower and a silent promise to take it easy the next few days and enjoy smelling the flowers.

I know back pain. I had a back injury four years ago and as someone who's walked out from two spinal taps, I can tell you that at thirty, it's not getting better. I thought to post this to a different journal but it really does apply here to other people, many other gardeners who ignore their back and keep on working. It's not the way to go. Plants will be fine and while my front lawn and backyard grow faster with each passing day, it's not that big of a deal to cut it down. It'll get done. Just like the house cleaning.

I can honestly say that my back has no time to recover. What, with working a labor job (yes, THIS retail job falls into a heavy labor category) and working out to repair the damage, my back has been nothing but forgiving. Chiropractors are the way to go, especially when I can't fix the problem myself. Mind you, I go to the gym, I run, I stretch, I do weights, etc ,etc ,etc, but I also take two days off on the weekends and those days off are for me and my back. I've had my chiropractor take up the position of personal trainer too only because back corrections are so hard to fix and you can easily further the damage. This applies to gardening too where people are hunched over for hours, picking weeds (oh my, you should SEE the weeds in my garden!) and digging holes. Save your back. Rent a machine or get some young thing to do it. Especially where holes are concerned.

For me, I wake up early early in the morn (5am if I can) and I run with the dog. I come home, drop the pet off and head out to the gym, spending forty minutes there, lifting weights and stretching. It really sets my mood for the day, pushing me into something positive that I can ride for the next eight hours. It also does wonders for my back. I come home at night and again, once the family is fed, baby put to sleep (I have a 19 month old), then it's grabbing the dog and out for another run!

I am by no means a thin little thing (okay... welll im 5'2") but I weigh 160 lbs of overweight flub that I'm trying to get rid of. I packed it on in december (wow hey! Where did All that WEIGHT come from!) and have not been able to be rid of it ever since. I wont allow myself to buy new clothes but wear hand-me-downs (my punishment for gaining 20 lbs in a month!), I've cut out the sugar, cut down on the breads and I drink lots of water. I find that when I exercise, my body naturally shoos away the sugar cravings and I have more urges to drink water than I do anything else. Ive heard of people cutting out a lot of eating in general but I work a labor job and lets be honest here. I cut my portions down but by no means do I cut food out. Doing so would be foolish to my body and downright abusive. My body needs fuel to run and just like a well oiled car, it needs vitamins. Tea has nearly been cut out of my diet and I don't drink pop. Pop drinkers! Cut it out of your diet and guarenteed you'll lose 20 lbs in three months just because you left that behind!

It's a trialing task and listen, we didn't gain that weight over night. It always takes time and it's not about the end result, it's about the journey. This also means going to bed at a respectable time, giving my body the time to regenerate and relax. On my days off, on the weekends, I take a pill to fully relax and wind down, usually the robax (back relief thinger?) and I do it only when I can't come out of a work high (it's a mode thats difficult to phase out of once home). I try not to take any medications because they make me groggy and they also can't be that healthy for you.

A back injury like mine is by no means permanent and the soreness in your back can be changed too. You just have to want it bad enough and find ways to make it work for you. I change things up all the time, after a program runs it's course for 6 weeks, it's changed, challenging my muscles to new and fit ways to maintain a healthy and workable body, especially in the job force.


Ewa said...

This is a great post - thanks for sharing your experience and all this information.
I think all of us have to take care of our aching backs...

CanadianGardenJoy said...

Andrea .. my god I don't know how you do it girl !
I had damage to my sciatic nerve and had to have a disc operation .. 4 screws and a bone graft from my hip .. so I know what you mean .. yoga stretching helps a great deal for me .. but I can't do what you do (I'm OLDER girl ! LOL)
I'm 5'9" and have EXTRA nonsense weight from (yes .. everyone seems to use this excuse) Hashimoto's Thyroid .. it went bullistic ? and I'm on all sorts of meds ..
What I want to say is YES ! physical movement helps so much when done correctly and in a practised routine .. you are SO right .. but my hat goes off to you with the intense training you are doing .. AMAZING !! Well done girl !! : )

Andrea said...

Ewa - It's a working progress for sure. I have some serious pains at time but I work through them. But I can honestly say, the running helps and do does the ab work, helps a lot. Without a strong Core, our backs ahve no support and thats the most important part!

Joy - that is INSANE! My god woman. My god. lol I have thyghroid tooo and I swear, I think my body is hanging on tight to all this excessive weight. It refuses to let it go! oh god, just got in from a run at 10:20 Pm AH! Shoot me now!