Gardening – Keep Injury Free

The joys of gardening

There’s nothing more pleasant than sitting outside and enjoying a summer garden, and gardening can be fantastic exercise. However, as the green-fingered types amongst us know, a lot of hard work goes into creating a lovely outdoor space. Working too hard in the garden can sometimes lead to injuries, especially if you already have some existing problems.

Thankfully, there are lots things you can do to take extra care of yourself. Read on for a few handy tips on how to keep yourself injury-free and make sure the only things you’re pulling this summer are weeds!

Choose your weapons wisely

Consider your gardening tools carefully. If you suffer with lower back pain, try to use tools with a long handle rather than ones that require you to bend down all the time. Small shears can be kept in a holster at your waist, saving you the need to bend down to pick them up all the time.
Be careful with watering cans too – a heavy one can put a lot of pressure through your wrist and lower back as you lean forwards to water your plants. Try making more than one trip with the can half full instead. Your back will thank you.
There’s also a special gardening tool known as a ‘kneeler’. This provides padding for your knees and helps you get up and kneel down with help from your arms, giving you a padded surface to push up from. I would recommend moving the kneeler around the garden so that you’re not twisting and over-stretching to reach what you are working on. It’s also a good idea to try and work symmetrically, using both sides of your body equally, so you’re not repetitively using the same muscles and leaving yourself vulnerable to repetitive strain injuries.
Finally, making sure that your tools are sharp and in good working order can also save you a lot of extra work. A blunt set of shears will make trimming branches a lot tougher on your wrists, arms and even your lower back.

Support yo’self!

Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. In this fast-paced world, many of us can be very all-or-nothing in our thinking. You don’t have to attack all of the weeds and tend to all of the flowers in one day solid. That way injuries lie.
I often hear from patients who have relaxed all winter and then take it upon themselves to jump in at the deep end once spring has sprung, trying to do everything at once. This is the perfect way to hurt yourself! Try treating a day of gardening like a sport – warm up gently, take regular breaks and have a stretch off afterwards. If you know you already have certain injuries, you need to be mindful of these and it might be worth you considering using one of the many different kinds of supports that are available for unsteady knees, sore elbows and the like.
It’s also very important to take your general fitness into account. The fitter and stronger you are, the easier your work in the garden will be. If you feel as though your fitness could use a boost, a regular walking routine or joining a local yoga group can work wonders.
If you do end up experiencing pain or discomfort from your work in the garden, we’re here to help. As osteopaths, we can deal with lots of different injuries including back and neck problems, disc problems, sciatica and trapped nerves, spondylitis, hip and knee pain, shoulder pain, arthritic pain, repetitive strain, headaches, tennis elbow, golfers elbow, various sprains and strains (including wrist and hand) and much more. Give us a call for a chat to see if we can help you get back on your feet. Or your knees, depending how tall your plants are!

Is gardening giving you a niggling pain…

There is no reason why you should put up with discomfort when help is at hand

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