Back pain or other chronic aches? Here’s how to garden safely to avoid pain : Shots

Back pain or other chronic aches? Here’s how to garden safely to avoid pain : Shots
To garden without triggering chronic pain like back pain, choose careful positions recommended by a physical therapist.
To garden without triggering chronic pain like back pain, choose careful positions recommended by a physical therapist.

When I look at the economic news: the housing crunch, the high cost of groceries, or the possibility that AI will render my professional skills obsolete – I often come back to the same thought: I should start growing my own vegetables.

Financial savings and fresh produce aside, research shows gardening and spending time in nature has been shown to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety. For people like me who live in cities where community gardens are popular, there’s evidence that gardening helps build a sense of community with neighbors.

And of course, the regular, moderate-intensity exercise of planting, weeding, and pruning can supports general health.

This story was adapted from an edition of NPR Health, a newsletter covering the science of healthy living. To get more stories like this delivered to your in-box, click here to subscribe.

Sounds like a win all around. But there’s a problem. Like about 20% of adults in the U.S., I live with chronic pain, including many with back pain. Mine is in my pelvis and legs, and it can make repetitive bending or crouching very uncomfortable.

Fortunately for me, this spring I’ve been seeing Rebecca Stephenson, a clinical specialist in physical therapy at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Massachusetts. She has a passion for plants — in her own garden she grows flowers like sedum, coleus, peonies, as well as herbs — and has a lot of ideas about how to modify gardening activities to prevent pain.

She says gardening can benefit people with chronic pain. “You’re exercising, breathing outside in nature and getting good lung expansion. You’re also using your arms and legs in a coordinated way.” Luckily she says, “there is a way to garden so that you don’t hurt yourself and end up in pain afterwards.”

Here are some of Stephenson’s tips for getting your hands in the dirt, without the hurt.

Try sitting with your legs spread out and your back supported with a stadium chair.

Leif Parsons

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Leif Parsons

Pace yourself

Like any physical activity, Stephenson says you can build endurance for gardening, step by step. Don’t overdo it. “It’s happened to me where I’ve gone out for four or five hours, and it’s going to cost me for two weeks.” But her professional training helps her stay grounded. “I come at it from underneath. Instead of going over your limit, I try to come under,” she says.

“What I really recommend is to take your garden project and see how you could split it up into smaller pieces and be very reasonable about the amount of time that you’re physically able to do it. So it might be a half an hour, it might be 15 minutes, it might be an hour, and then take a break, change your body position, do some stretches,” she says.

Embrace ‘functional bracing’

“Sometimes people wear a back brace just for gardening, and that gives them a little bit more of a reminder to be

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How to work out when you have a chronic situation or a incapacity

How to work out when you have a chronic situation or a incapacity

Editor’s Note: Just before commencing any new workout plan, seek advice from your physician. Prevent straight away if you encounter soreness.


Lots of men and women wrestle to retain a common exercise session program. Insert in a disability, long-term affliction or injuries, and it can be even more tough to incorporate exercising into a weekly regime. Nonetheless it’s important to do so.

Grown ups with disabilities are three times much more most likely to produce severe well being circumstances this sort of as coronary heart condition, stroke, diabetic issues and cancer than these without disabilities, in accordance to the US Facilities for Disease Manage and Prevention. Although the influence of these overall health disorders can be lessened or potentially even avoided with typical cardio exercising, practically half of grown ups ages 18 to 64 with a disability are not participating in any, the CDC suggests.

“Regular training can supply quite a few benefits for people with disabilities, together with improved general wellness, improved power and stamina, greater mobility, and enhanced psychological overall health,” stated Lalitha McSorley, operator and direct bodily therapist at Brentwood Physiotherapy Clinic in Calgary, Alberta.

Standard training can also enable take care of the symptoms affiliated with some disabilities. For instance, workout can cut down the soreness and stiffness that frequently accompanies arthritis, and it can make improvements to cognitive function in individuals with cognitive challenges, she explained. Additionally, a reliable exercise regime can improve self-esteem and present useful socialization and neighborhood engagement.

In 2020, the Planet Health Corporation introduced the initially world wide community overall health suggestions relating to actual physical exercise for those with disabilities and persistent situations, which include diabetes, hypertension and cancer. These recommendations are the similar as the US Bodily Activity Suggestions for Americans for all grown ups: Just about every week you should do at minimum 150 to 300 minutes of average-intensity cardio workout, 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-depth cardio bodily exercise or an equal mix of both of those. In addition, you need to complete muscle mass-strengthening things to do two or extra times per week.

Which varieties of work out are appropriate and valuable will depend upon your specific wellbeing situation. In basic, some excellent alternatives are swimming, walking, drinking water aerobics, cycling and seated exercise routines, reported Bishnu Pada Das, a accredited own trainer centered in Kolkata, India. Illustrations of seated workouts incorporate employing a hand cycle and carrying out chair workout routines with or devoid of weights.

Chair exercises can be as simple as energy punches in which you punch your arms in entrance of you in an alternating trend, Das stated, or alternating kicks, which entail keeping your chair for guidance, then alternating leg kicks. Even torso rotations are effective, twisting from side to side and using your arms to support with the rotations.

Aquatic activities, such as pool running, are recommended by physical therapist Dr. Heather Swain of Ally Total Physical Therapy in Toledo, Ohio.

Activities such as h2o aerobics and pool functioning are favored by Dr. Heather Swain, a physical therapist at Ally Full Actual physical Treatment in Toledo, Ohio. “The reduced gravity

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Wisconsin’s ‘chronic Lyme’ patients embrace alternative treatments, rack up big bills

Wisconsin’s ‘chronic Lyme’ patients embrace alternative treatments, rack up big bills

Wisconsin’s ‘chronic Lyme’ patients embrace alternative treatments, rack up big bills

By Zhen Wang, Wisconsin Watch


Crystal Pauley, a former physician assistant, didn’t believe in so-called chronic Lyme disease — until she became sick.

Many health care providers reject chronic Lyme disease as a diagnosis. One 2010 survey found that just six out of 285 primary care doctors surveyed in Connecticut — an epicenter for the tick-borne infection — believed that symptoms of Lyme disease persist after treatment or in the absence of a positive Lyme test.

When Pauley worked for the La Crosse-based Gundersen Health System, she remembered hearing about a friend from high school battling chronic Lyme in Australia. But she had her doubts. “I’m working in the medical field,” she said. “We’ve never learned about that.”

Years later, Pauley has changed her mind. Pauley tested positive for Lyme in 2020. She suffers from unrelenting fatigue, joint pain and brain fog. She walks up stairs sideways because of the unbearable knee pain. Pauley said she has become “pseudo-Lyme literate” because of her own personal journey.

Pauley belongs to a cohort of patients with Lyme-like symptoms but negative test results or patients with positive test results who suffer from lingering symptoms long after treatment. They call it chronic Lyme disease, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labels it as Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS). The CDC says there is no known treatment for the condition.

“Their symptoms are always real. They’re experiencing them,” said Dr. Joyce Sanchez, an infectious-disease associate professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin who treats Lyme patients with persistent symptoms.

“If someone is having physical symptoms and isn’t feeling listened to, then they’ll have mental health repercussions and then that will impact their physical well-being,” she said. “And then it’s a spiral that if you don’t address both components of health, you’re not going to make much progress on either side. And they will continue to feel sick.”

Wisconsin Watch talked with five Wisconsin patients, all women, who have been searching for validation and experimenting with personalized treatments as part of a long and sometimes grueling battle with the illness. The infection comes from tiny ticks primarily found in the northeastern United States, including in Wisconsin — which is a hot spot for Lyme, ranking No. 5 among states for Lyme cases in 2019.

One of the five tested positive for Lyme using a two-step testing recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Three others tested positive using a test not recommended by the CDC. The fifth woman was diagnosed as possibly suffering from the disease by a “Lyme-literate” practitioner.

Wide-ranging symptoms

All of the five patients share commonalities. They’ve never noticed the signature “bull’s eye” rash around the tick bite, the hallmark of Lyme disease, which is seen in 70% to 80% of patients. But relentless waves of rheumatologic, cardiac and neurological symptoms have flattened their lives. Some of them were previously fit and healthy.

Pauley, 37, who as a student cranked through medical textbooks, began having trouble remembering

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