Osteopath & keen gardener Lorraine Scates passes on some helpful tips on how to enjoy a pain free time working in your garden.
When the sun comes out and the weather improves many of us head outdoors and begin to get the garden in shape for the summer. This is the time we see gardening related lower back injuries and other joint complaints. However, with simple changes, the chance of injuring ourselves can be greatly reduced.
Firstly, try to limber up for the task in hand. Try some gentle stretching before attempting tasks that are strenuous.
Avoid lifting objects that are heavy ie paving slabs, so get a friend to help out to even the load.
Be aware of your posture at all times when performing these tasks. Avoid excessive slumping and try to maintain an upright position.
You wouldn’t spend 5 hours in the gym at a time so avoid performing a single task for a lengthy period of time & keep things varied with frequent breaks
When weeding avoid stooping over whilst keeping the legs straight, instead try to bend the knees and squat down to the level you are weeding at or sit on a small stool or cushion to avoid knee discomfort. If you are feeling very energetic you may prefer a lunging position. Whichever position is easiest for you please be mindful of maintaining an upright posture and avoid slumping.
When digging, avoid stooping forward at the hips. We advise partly bending the knees using a shallow squat stance. Keep your chest proud to help keep an upright posture. Many back injuries occur when we are slumping forward combined with a twist or turn.
When potting try to set pots at a level you can work with at an upright posture – for example at a level where you can sit and work. This reduces the strain involved and makes it easier to maintain a good posture.
Finally repetitive strain should be considered when performing tasks that you may not have done since last summer. Strains can sometimes occur when a mild activity is performed over a long period of time. If you have been hibernating over the winter don’t expect to be fit enough to be able to perform gardening for numerous hours in one go and not suffer pain and injuries as a result. Take regular breaks. Be kind to your body and allow your body to adapt to the new physical demand you’re putting upon it.
Enjoy your garden! We’re here to help if you overdo it!! Call us at our Benfleet clinic on 01268 774249 or our Thurrock clinic on 01375 678877.