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!