Now is the best time to get out in the garden and start clearing and planting. But boy, that can play havoc if you haven’t used those muscles in a while. Making goals for what you want to accomplish and breaking them into small doable tasks are helpful and keeps you from feeling overwhelmed.
However, even with the best plans, many of us (including me) get started and just can’t seem to stop. Then follows the pain and stiffness over the next two to three days. As we get older it takes a little longer to recover from overdoing it. Here are a few tips I found to be helpful:
Keep hydrated. I make sure I have a large water bottle with me whenever I work in the garden. Using your muscle builds up lactic acid and this needs to be moved out. Keeping hydrated helps your kidneys excrete the by-products.
Stretch frequently. I have to remind myself to do this, but it does make a difference, especially if I’ve been doing a lot of repetitive motion. Switching from my dominant side and alternating movements keeps the joints in a more balanced use. It’s not just cutting and cutting or digging and digging, but alternating between the two.
Soak in a hot Epsom salt bath at the end of the day for about 20 minutes. I use 2 cups of salt (and buy large amounts at Costco or Sam’s Club) in the tub. Sometimes I add some essential oils such as Lavender. I brew up some tea and sip while soaking. If I don’t have time for a soak, I liberally massage Magnesium oil over my low back, shoulders, legs and neck before going to bed.
Depending on how much I overdid it, after the bath and before I go to bed, I’ll massage in a muscle relaxant oil. I created this to help with spasms, pain and inflammation and contains the following: St John’s Wort (this is photo-sensitizing if used in the sun so I use it for bedtime relief), Arnica, Lobelia, Goldenrod, Devil’s Claw and Solomon’s Seal. Sometimes I add Kava Kava to the mix. Usually the next morning I wake up feeling pretty good with minimal soreness.
Get out and enjoy the plants! You don’t have to pay in pain and discomfort or ingest large quantities of ibuprofen or aspirin (they bring their own issues to the table) to feel better. Next time we’ll cover some internal plant formulas that can help with soreness and pain.