With Spring moving rapidly towards Summer, the garden beckons, but for some, so does back, neck, shoulder or knee pain!
Many of the injuries we see in the Clinic this time of year are gardening related and sadly, the majority are totally preventable.
Gardening can be a strenuous form of exercise & needs to be treated as such.
Taking a few simple precautions can significantly reduce your risk of injury.
Warm up first
Everyone knows that warming up before exercise is a good idea, so before gardening try taking a brisk 5 minute walk to raise your core body temperature, following up with a few stretches. Try to choose stretches that mimic movements you are likely to be carrying out while gardening such as reaching, bending & twisting. Repeat each stretch a few times. Start gently, gradually increasing range.
When the sun shines, it is always tempting to try to fit far too much into the day. Before you start, try assessing the jobs you want to get done, factor in frequent breaks & then set yourself a realistic target. STOP when you reach it. Always consider your level of fitness & the levels of activity you are accustomed to when judging what is a realistic activity goal for the day.
Often a change is as good as a rest. It's tempting to stick with one job until it's complete, but rotating activities every 15 minutes is a good idea. Try some mowing followed by some weeding, then some hoeing, followed by some pruning. Try alternating between activities in kneeling & standing.
Use the correct tools
Wherever possible use the correct tools for the job, this minimises stress & strain on the body. Long handled tools help to avoid over reaching, stretching & stooping. They also reduce the amount of effort required to carry out a task. Consider the weight of hedge cutters, holding these at arm’s length for any length of time puts considerable strain on the neck, shoulders & low back. Prolonged gripping & repetitive squeezing of cutting tools can lead to problems such as golfers & tennis elbow. Kneelers help to reduce pressure on the knees & give assistance when getting up & down from the kneeling position. If you have problems with your knees, sit rather than kneel.
Don't be afraid to ask for help
Know your limits. It you are not accustomed to lifting or moving heavy objects, don’t! Many people attend our Clinic with low back or neck pain after attempting to move large potted plants. Phone a friend or relative & share the load. Remember the idiom, ‘many hands make light work’.
We are here to help
If, despite your best efforts, you do manage to injure yourself, we are here to help, 7 days a week. Don't suffer in silence, pick up the phone!
By Karen Raine MSc, BSc, MCSP
So, if you thought of your body as a car, which one of these images would best describe its condition?
Are you a dream machine?
A bit of a clunker?
All joking aside, most of us understand the sense in giving our car a regular service to help stave off mechanical problems or rust, but when it comes to our bodies we tend to wait until the ‘wheels have fallen off’ before we seek help!
Our bodies work best when we change position frequently, maintain a good posture & have strong muscles & flexible joints.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of modern jobs involve sitting or standing for hours at a time in poor postures with limited joint movements. Many daily tasks are also monotonous & repetitive. As a consequence, aches & pains are common place.
Our bodies are wonderfully complex biological machines, with the ability to heal when damaged, or ‘abused’ by our lifestyles. However, when that abuse or damage is daily, they often need a helping hand to heal.
So how do we stave off musculoskeletal problems generated by our modern sedentary lives?
Here are a couple of things you might want to consider.
There are several things I like about Pilates.
There is no jumping around & all movements are precise, controlled & flowing, which helps to protect your joints.
There is very little equipment involved & so it is inexpensive.
You don’t need to leave the house if you don’t want to. That said, classes are great fun, motivational & a chance to make friends.
Pilates is a brilliant way to develop power, strength, flexibility, balance & core stability, all without jarring the joints. It also improves posture & links movement to correct breathing.
It is ideal for all ages & fitness levels (or lack thereof). I would recommend classes or one to one training, at least initially, so that you establish good technique & learn the core principles involved. Once you have the basics nailed, you can continue to attend classes when you are able or work out at home when time is short.
Add to that a regular physiotherapy session & you are well on your way to a much more comfortable, if not pain free existence.
So, what can musculoskeletal physiotherapists do to help the situation?
Very often in sedentary workers we find hypomobility (reduced movement or stiffness) of the spine. Workers who are on their feet all day are not immune; they often stand in poor postures for prolonged periods. Movement can be greatly improved with a combination of
For your body, that’s the equivalent of an interim service & MOT
A car, especially a classic car deserves to be cherished & cared for, not left to rust & seize up.
Do yourself a favour; treat your body at least as well as your car. A little maintenance goes a long way!