Earth Day leaves a lot of us with regrets. And not the environmentally correct regrets that we should have, like driving the Dodo and the Passenger Pigeon to extinction, or the fact that the once-mighty Los Angeles River is now mostly spray-painted concrete.
I mean the neuromuscular regrets of a weekend of gardening frenzy: stiffness in the lower back, sore wrists, cramps in the arches of the feet and sinews of the hands, crunchiness in the back of the neck. That morning-after-Earth Day-weekend eco hangover that makes me so grateful that my ancestors learned to read and write, so that I don’t have to be a sharecropper.
Before you embark on a spasm of weeding, hauling, hacking, lifting, heaving, pruning, stooping, bending, squatting, digging and busting moves worthy of a “Cirque de Soliel” try-out, I recommend the new book, “Back at Your Best: Balancing the Demands of Life With the Needs of Your Body” by Dr. Jay M. Lipoff, who is a chiropractor, certified fitness trainer and spinal injury prevention expert.
He recommends, among other things, a riding mower versus a push mower.
Lipoff also opines that there’s no body-friendly way to use a weed-whacker, since the device displaces your body-weight in front of you in such a way that creates 200 lbs. of additional pressure per square inch on the discs of your spine.
Next time I am hit by irrational botanical urges, I plan to wait it out from the nearest futon, iced beverage in hand. But if you must go native, in spite of all of those years of higher education, take this other piece of advice from Dr. Jay Lipoff: when raking and hoeing, switch sides every few minutes, even though it will feel weird. Alternating and using both arms and both hands throughout the task will minimize strain and resultant pain.