neighborhood garden for april 17, 2010




BY Dustin Reinbold , PT, MSPT, ATC, OHC

THERAPIST AT Madonna TherapyPlus


          For many people, spring is a season of gardening, but before you begin tilling and planting, take a few minutes to consider your back. Pulling weeds, raking a lawn, or just digging a hole can strain your back.  In fact, any movement that requires lifting, twisting or turning can injure you back. To make sure your flower bed doesnít land you in bed, here is what Madonna TherapyPlus Clinic recommends:

        Avoid squatting and bending as much as possible. 

        Instead of bending over to work on your garden, kneel on a soft cushion

        Take a break to stretch your back every 15 to 30 minutes.  Stand up slowly, take several deep breaths and place your hands on your low back while slowly arching backward.

        Use a wheelbarrow for hauling heavy objects. Always load materials toward the front of the wheelbarrow using your legs to lift.

        When lifting, position yourself close to the object.  Separate y our feet shoulder width apart.  Make sure that you bend at the knees and tighten your stomach muscles.  Lift with your legs as you stand up.

        Avoid raking, lifting or digging for long, uninterrupted periods. It is important to take frequent rest and alternate between using your right and left side.

        When mowing, always push with your legs and maintain a good, upright posture.

        Choose gardening tools with padded handles to protect joints in your hands and finger from excess pressure.

        Remember to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and wear sunscreen.

        If you experience pain of any kind, stop immediately, seek assistance.

         If you suffer from persistent pain, speak with your doctor, and ask if physical therapy would be appropriate for you.

(The above article was reprinted by permission from Madonna TherapyPlus Clinic . It also appeared in the March issue of the Lincoln Garden Club Newsletter.)




          I started cardiac rehab on Friday, March 6, 2010 . The therapist insists that I first warm up before doing any strenuous exercises. This is important also when working in the gardening. Before you start mowing, digging, weeding, etc. be sure you warm up. At rehab the therapist has me get on the first machine and work very slowly for two minutes before I start to really work. After warm-up, I am now doing from 8 to 10 minutes on each of the three exercise machines, and then I cool down before I go home. 

          Most athletes have grown up doing stretching exercises to warm up. However, an article in the paper recently indicated that the best warm up exercise is to do what you are going to do, only do it slowly, or walk at a normal pace for 2-5 minutes. Literature from rehab encourages members to either do like I do or walk around the basketball court two times as a warm up.

          The gardener can walk around the garden and enjoy the color and texture of the plants and smell the Roses as an enjoyable way to warm-up before any vigorous activity. Along the way, stop and stretch a couple times and then you will be ready to go.

          Donít forget to cool down before you go inside or sit for any length of time. The therapist checks my pulse rate to make sure it is down to what it was when I started before he will let me go home. After strenuous gardening, walk around your garden again to cool down.

          Warming up before exercise and cooling down after means fewer sore muscles. ************************************************************************



            Did you prune your Christmas Cactus on April 1st? I forgot to do

mine but did get it done about 10 days late. Before the first of May is not too late.

          Yes it is time to prune your ornamental cactus whether it is a Christmas Cactus (Zygocactus) or a Thanksgiving Cactus or an Easter Cactus (Schlumbergera). Whichever one you have, to prune just pinch off the flattened stem segments with indented notches at the margins. Some call these stem segments leaves but technically they are not.

          These Holiday Cactus need to be pruned whenever they get too big. Flowers are produced on the new growth at the ends of these stem segments. So if you want to reduce the size of your plant, make it fuller, and/or stimulate new growth so you have more flowers all over the plant, prune the tips sometime during April.  By pruning you will you have new growth this summer that will produce flowers for you next winter.

I just break off as many of the stem segments as I need to, but at least one from each tip. The stem segments you remove can be put in a good container mix and rooted so you can have a plant to give to a friend next Christmas. Use a good container mix rather than a cactus mix as Christmas Cactus are not a true cactus.

One last tip: Christmas Cactus like to be pot bound so don ít be in a hurry to re-pot your plant and donít put in a pot more than one size larger than the present one. When you do re-pot it, again use a good container mix regardless of what it has now. For healthy plants, avoid cheap potting soil.

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