With Spring arriving early on the West Coast, many people have launched into their favourite hobbies, ranging from gardening to cycling to training for runs, ranging from 10 km to full marathons.

For anyone who hasn’t been very active over the winter, Victoria Chiropractor Dr. Stephanie Louie advises slowly easing into these fair weather activities. While our bodies are meant to be in motion and not sedentary for hours at a time, they also don’t just jump into optimal health the moment we want them to after resting much of the winter.

“Start slow, and don’t do too much at one time,” Dr. Louie says. “You have all Spring and Summer ahead of you, not to mention the rest of your life.”

This is the time of year when, usually after the first sunny, warm weekend, Dr. Louie sees patients coming in with lower back pain from overdoing their first weekend in the garden or first weekend of training on a new bike or running. Before engaging in a physical activity like this, she recommends warming up for 5 – 10 minutes, followed by some stretching. Everyone should also ensure they take regular breaks and stay well-hydrated before, during and after physical activity.

It’s a good idea to see your chiropractor before taking up any new physical activity so they can ensure you are stretching correctly and not over-stretching, which could cause injury. A chiropractor can also check your spine’s alignment to ensure your body can handle this new activity.

For gardeners, Dr. Louie offers the following advice for preventing lower back pain:

  • Ergonomics is very important; you should never be hunched over for extended periods of time. Consider installing raised flowerbeds, taking regular breaks to stretch and move around, and diversifying the tasks you are doing.
  • When shoveling dirt, be careful not to load and twist, but use your feet to turn your body.
  • Also, while shoveling, since it’s a one-sided activity, try doing it on the opposite side, using both sides of your body evenly. This works your motor control on the other side of the body and creates new neuropathways in your brain.
  • Always bend with your knees and carry things symmetrically.
  • Use tools that will lessen the strain on your body, such as a wheelbarrow for carrying dirt.

For cyclists and runners, make sure you do the following:

  • Ensure your shoes have proper tread and support and are the right shoes for how you run or walk. If your shoes are worn out, they won’t absorb the shock when you run.
  • Get your bike fitted for your size.
  • Take it easy for the first couple of goes.

Another problem Dr. Louie sees at this time of year is people who injure themselves and think it will go away on its own, when they should see a chiropractor.

“Take your back health seriously and see a chiropractor before your back starts to hurt,” recommends Dr. Louie. “We can help you prevent painful injuries.”