picture of spring flowers

Healthy Gardening

Spring is finally here! Hooray! So, are you getting prepared for gardening? Whether you see gardening as relaxation, or whether you think of it as a fitness workout, it’s a great pastime.

But spending hours bent over in the garden makes you that bit more vulnerable to injuries, and what we want to do is keep you out of pain.

Gardening injuries range from low back pain from leaning forward doing the weeding, to aching shoulders from pruning. Of course, there are always the more unusual injuries, like stepping onto the rake and smacking yourself on the forehead, but it’s pretty difficult for me to help you avoid standing on a rake!

So here are a few reminders to keep yourself out of A&E:

  1. Always begin with a warm up: Take a brisk walk around the garden first, or just wriggle around a bit before you start in the work. Get those joints moving a bit!
  2. Change activities every 10 minutes: Don’t get stuck on a single task for hours. Vary your activities from digging to planting; pruning to weeding; raking to hacking shrubs back. That way you engage different muscle groups.
  3. Use long-handled tools: This should help minimise all the bending or stretching.
  4. NEVER use bendy canes or sticks to support you when switching positions from kneeling to standing.
  5. Lift with your knees and a straight back: Don’t lift those huge soil-filled flower pots or sacks full of landscaping stones if they are too heavy. If you think you’ve picked up something that might hurt your back – drop it. There’s no need to be a hero in the garden!
  6. Take a break and listen to your body: As soon as you get that achey feeling that tells you you’ve done too much, just stop what you’re doing.
  7. Don’t stand on the rake!

Gardening is a fantastic thing to do, but it is worth taking precautions to keep you injury free!

Most of all enjoy the new leaves, buds and flowers as they start coming up – it’s just so nice to see them!

 

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Gardening and Back Pain

Picture of watering can and lettucesNow the weather seems to have improved many of you will want to be out in the garden making it beautiful, and this can present a hazard for your back. Here are my tips:

Preparation – ensure you are fit enough to do what you want to do. Use gentle warm-up exercises before you start, especially if you have not been gardening for a long time.

Wear appropriate clothing and use supports where necessary.

Do not spend more that 30 minutes doing any one thing. Set a timer to make sure you do not exceed this.

Be aware of your own limitations. For example, consider the weight and size of things before lifting them.

Be prepared to change your habits and/or get some help where necessary.

Do not dig if the soil is too dry or too wet and find out whether your soil is better suited to a fork or spade. Try to alternate your “digging” foot if possible.

Kneel rather than bend and use a kneeling pad, or a small stool may also be useful.

Do not over-reach. Take care with strimmers and Flymos so you do not twist when using them.

Clear rubbish into small bags as you work, so you don’t have to lift a large weight at the end.

Use a stable wheelbarrow and don’t overfill.

Look out for suitable adapted tools to make your life easier.

Use a hose rather than a watering can, or only half fill the watering can and make more trips.

Plan your garden for the future, e.g. raised beds, low maintenance shrubs.

Remember pain or discomfort is a warning sign, so do not ignore it. See your osteopath if in doubt!

More tips to come in the future!

 

 

Image credit: Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas / , via Wikimedia Commons