Mindful Back Care
At this time of the year it is very easy to put our health last and push through aches, pain and tiredness until the harvest is complete. The problem is this can lead to injury, illness and stress.
I believe that by the time we leave the farming industry and we are ready to retire or at least slow down a little, we all want a healthy, strong body. Do you dream of travelling more later in life, having quality time with the family and being fit and active into your 80’s and 90’s? If so you’re going to need a big dose of ‘mindful back care’ and the willingness to implement the simple strategies today.
Our Mindful Back Care Plan
1/ Begin each day by warming up the muscles in your body. Muscles that are inflexible are more likely to be injured. I have found a great article by UK Davies Health if you would like to red more information about the importance of muscle flexibility. http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/sportsmedicine/resources/flexibility_descriprion.html
2/ Notice how your body is feeling throughout the day and respond early to tension with simple stretching. Remember less can be more when your body is starting to ache. Slightly lifting the knees or a gentle twist may be enough to release the muscles. Don’t wait until the end of the day.
3/ Be aware of how you are lifting and ensure your core is on. I am reading a fantastic book called, “The Back Pain Handbook”, new ways to recover and keep fit by Francine St George. Knowing how to correctly turn your core on is vital in the workplace. Take the time to understand how the hip flexor muscles such as your iliopsoas, hamstrings and quads are a part of the core system and are essential to back health.
4/ Be aware of your posture. If you could take a photo of your most common position during harvest you would probably understand why your body is aching in certain places. Is your neck forward, hips forward, ankles rolling or shoulders arched? Try to sit with the core muscles holding you upright so the shoulders can relax.
5/ Constant body vibration can also lead to injury. Ensure you have set up suspension seats in all vehicles to reduce the impact your long work hours have on the spine.
6/ Treat your spine with great care. Any pain, however subtle should be taken seriously. The fitter and stronger you are pre-harvest the better but if the alarm system is going off now it is so important to respond by calling into your doctor and checking what the early response can be.
In this body of ours we have a lot to look after including 226 bones, 24 vertebrae, muscles with a variety of roles and range of motion, tendons, ligaments and joints. We have an incredible nervous system, digestive system, immune, cardiovascular, reproductive, urinary, lymphatic, hormonal and respiratory system all trying to work with us.
Don’t treat your machinery better then you treat your own body. We must value our mental and physical health in the agriculture industry, at the end of the day it’s the most important thing we have.
By Narelle Hunter
For more information and/or to get in touch with Narelle click here.