The Do’s and Don’ts of Gardening

gardening-back-pain

This time of year most of us will want to get our gardens looking lovely in time for summer barbecues and parties. Whilst gardening is a rewarding, meditative and enjoyable pass time, it requires the use of a lots of muscles and joints that have been resting over the winter months.  Gardeners can easily overdo it, without realising it.  During the marathon session in the garden, while the joints and muscles are warmed up – you will feel nothing.  The next day or even the day after – oh boy! The pain!  When patients come in with their unexplained pain – it is usually revealed that hours were spent in the garden a few days before.  Garden looks lovely but the back, hips, shoulders need some help.

 In this article, we hope to provide you with a list of do’s and don’ts with gardening to help you prevent any serious injuries.

Do

1. Warm up – begin with some simple stretching exercises and target lighter tasks which do not require too much bending

2. Pace yourself – many people view a Bank Holiday weekend as an opportunity to ‘blitz’ the garden but this can often result in an injury

3. Have several tasks ‘on the go’ – for example, start by mowing the lawn, then digging followed by a rest and a drink. This allows for different muscles to be exercised.

4. Lift carefully – when lifting something, keep your back straight and vertical and bend from the knees – ensuring you get a good grip and lift.

5. Use gloves to grip any awkward or slippery loads – reduce damage to your hands.

6. Be careful with raking or hoeing – when doing this, we recommend you stand with one foot in front of the other and transfer your weight from back to front and vice versa.

7. Drink plenty of fluids – dehydration can lead to headaches and fatigue and consequently, this will affect muscle physiology – meaning increased vulnerability to injury.

 

Do not

1. Dig for too long – digging is an extremely demanding task and in most cases, the ‘last straw’ for a bad back. When you are digging, ensure to bend your knees to prevent any straining of the back.  Also, keep the blade of the spade in front of you at all times – do not be tempted to bend from your waist and twist at the same time.

2. Sweep large, heavy piles – this may aggravate or cause back problems. It is recommended that you keep your back straight and allow your legs and arms to do most of the work.

3. Lift heavy watering cans above your head – in some instances, you may need to water hanging baskets or plants at a high level. This is extremely likely to cause severe injury to your neck. We recommend using a lighter bottle which can be refilled for each section

4. Continue if you feel pain – STOP! Do not work through the pain as gardening will not make it better.

 

Feel free to ask us about simple exercises, which warm up muscles, before you start gardening!