July 5, 2011

John Howard/Photodisc/
Take care of your body with stretches and exercises so you don’t hurt yourself doing farm work.

If we want our tools to last, we sharpen and maintain them. If we treat them right, they endure. Best of all, it only takes a small amount of time every time we use them to keep them in good shape for the next time we use them.

So why can’t we do the same for our bodies? Maybe you do. Sure, there’s the everyday stuff—washing and brushing—but I’m talking about stretching and exercising the muscles that handle those tools in the woods, garden or shop.

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What brings this to mind is that I blew out my back the other day. I simply was leaning over a raised garden bed, pulling a few weeds. I had been halfway leaning on a hoop that gave a little. My vertebrae slipped to the side and a muscle pulled with them. A few seconds later, I’m on my back in the path. 

Since I was a teenager, my back has gone out on me periodically, sometimes for hours, sometimes for days. Pain medication, chiropractors and masseuses have done their thing for me, but the only thing that really works is regular exercise and stretching.

All it takes is about five minutes a night, and my back stays fine. It’s sort of like brushing the dirt off a spade before putting it away. Well, I let it go, and now I’m back at square one. The stretches are helping, but I know it will take days to get rid of the pain and stiffness.

If you’re like me and tend to overdo it when you attack that yard or farm job, do your body a favor. Take a minute and do a few stretches. Give your body the same break you do your tools. It deserves it.

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