A Lesson Learned

Friends, I am a stubborn woman. A lot of what happens in the garden is mostly done by yours truly; it’s not that Boo doesn’t want to help but often he has other things that keep him busy. So, even some of the tough digging and manual labor is up to me.

Case in point: on Saturday, I wanted to use my “new to me” toy (a Honda Harmony 100 mini-tiller that I got a really good deal on used) and get the cabbage patch and the raised bed ready for fall gardening. It’s a small machine, and it’s really not THAT heavy; I needed a walk-through on getting it started so Jason hauled it out to the garden for me. We got it running and I shooed him away so I could get the hang of it without him laughing at my comical attempts to keep the thing from getting away from me.

The tiller works like a complete dream – I’ll be blogging about it at some point. Within twenty minutes I had tilled a huge section of the main bed into a fine crumb that far surpassed anything I could have done even with hours of digging. I decided to move onto the cabbage frame.

This is where it got ugly.

I have a bountiful crop of Mexican Gherkins vining all over one side of the frame, so I couldn’t really move it while I tilled. The frame’s lowest height is somewhere around 3 feet, and while the tiller isn’t unbearably heavy it was now weighed down with muck from the other garden. I somehow managed to hold it next to my body, swing my leg over the frame, and let it down safely without any craziness occurring. I bounced it around in the cabbage patch for awhile and got things ready for some fall root crops – beets and carrots. Then came the difficult part – lifting it OUT of the frame with even more dirt caked on the tines and muscles that weren’t all that fresh after an hour of tilling.  I tried lifting it once or twice and was dismayed at how heavy it seemed.

Something in me quietly said, “Just ask Jason for help.”After all, he was just inside doing some computer work for his job, and he usually likes an excuse to get outside for a break. But laziness, impatience, or downright stubborn pride got in the way. I nudged the thing up next to the frame, jumped over on the outside, and lifted.

You guys, I know how to lift. In high school, most of my jobs involved a lot of bending and picking up boxes. When I work at the Berry Patch, I’m constantly doing that. I KNOW that the the proper way to lift something heavy is to squat down, keep it close to your body, and then lift with your legs. But in my furious determination to NOT ASK FOR HELP…this vital piece of common sense somehow escaped my brain and I lifted the tiller while bending over the frame.

Well, I got it up and out. Yay me? It felt pretty intense and I stopped to evaluate the state of my muscles. My lower back felt weird; not exactly painful, just weird. Sort of sore and numb. I thought nothing of it and continued on with my day – tilling up more areas of the garden, mowing the community garden, dragging hoses around, planting beet seeds…by the time evening came I did feel a bit stiff but assumed that a good night’s sleep would help and I would be able to go for my weekly “long” run the next morning.

Well, when I woke up on Sunday I quickly realized any sort of run was NOT happening. My lower back was so stiff and inflamed. I was still able to walk, but standing for too long made it hurt. Sitting for too long made it hurt. The transition between standing and sitting, or vice versa, REALLY made it hurt. I was both entertained and mortified by the fact that my 27-year-old body was behaving like a 77-year-old’s body.

Needless to say, I didn’t do much on Sunday. It’s a good thing I got so much accomplished on Saturday, huh? I ended up spending some time sitting out in the yard playing guitar, which was kind of a nice change of pace.

Thankfully, I woke up on Monday feeling marginally better, and was able to go throughout my work day without too much grief. I took a long walk on my lunch break because they say that walking is a good, gentle way to help your muscles heal. This morning, I’m feeling about 75% like my normal self. I have a much greater range of motion, and even when I do move the wrong way and use those sore muscles it’s not anywhere near as painful as it was on Sunday. I’m hoping to be back to normal by Saturday. Granted, I think it will be a very cautious normal – no tilling or heavy lifting for awhile. But maybe I can finally get out and take that long run I’ve been wanting to do!

On a side note, I’ve been packing LOTS of tart cherries into my smoothies this week because they are really good at reducing inflammation. I don’t know if they’re making a huge difference but I like to think that they are!

I’ve learned my lesson from this one. It’s much better to SLOW DOWN and ask for help than to risk your muscles! I’m a very active person and it was pretty discouraging to not be 100%. It’s better to be humble and aware of your body’s limits than to plow through on your own and make things worse.

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