With Chelsea flower show in sight and the promise of sunshine for summer, many of you may be inspired to get out there and spruce up your own gardens. Although a great form of physical exercise, gardening can leave many people with aches and pains. Therefore we have devised a few useful tips to help prevent this from happening:
- Ensuring that your tools, especially those for trimming and chopping, are sharp is a good way of reducing strain through your shoulders and upper back.
- Try to avoid heavy lifting but if necessary, use your legs to bend down keeping your back straight and use a wheelbarrow if possible. Also if using a watering can, don’t over fill it making it awkward and heavy to carry, instead half fill it and make more regular trips.
- Using long handled tools means you don’t have to be kneeling and stretching over flower beds, greatly reducing the chances of lower back pain. Having raised flower beds can also help with this.
- If you are prone to lower back pain, try to use some sort of back support as this will help to reduce the strain through the area and also act as a reminder when you enter an awkward movement.
- If you suffer from arthritis, try using tools with a larger handle grip as this makes them easier to hold and puts less strain through the joints and ligaments in your hand.
- If you do have to kneel, use a cushion or kneeling pad to do so as this reduces the pressure on your knee caps and the structures behind it which can often become irritated and inflamed with the repetitive pressure of kneeling for long periods.
- When potting, providing the pot is not too heavy, try to use a table or work surface so that you can stand comfortably instead of sitting awkwardly on the floor putting your back in a vulnerable position.
- Try to mix up your tasks during a gardening session to avoid repetitive straining movements, e.g. do 20 minutes raking then move on to some pruning and return to the raking. This will avoid over use of the same area of the body and lessen the chance of injury or strain.
- Gardening can be strenuous so remember to take regular breaks to give yourself a rest and to ensure you keep hydrated.
These tips are aimed at helping you enjoy your gardening whilst reducing the chances of injury, however should you find that you are suffering with any pain after tending to your garden why not book in with one of our osteopaths or masseuses? Or prepare yourself in advance with a pilates session so that you feel strong and confident before heading out with tailored movements to aid injury prevention?