Gardening is not the problem - you just need to get your technique right
Gardening is not the Problem - It's the way you do it!
As a nation, we love our gardens, but when it comes to back pain, gardening often gets a bad press. However, this is somewhat unfair, because gardening is an exercise that is good for you.
Most people don't do very much in their garden through the winter. Then, as the good weather appears, they make the most of it and spend a whole weekend working away. They then wonder why they cannot move the next morning! Although gardening gets the blame, this type of reaction would probably be the same with any long period of exercise after an extended break.
Like any exercise, to limit the risk of injury you need to know a little bit about good technique, use the available equipment, and be sensible.
"Some activities are definitely more hazardous than others", says Clinic Director, Stuart Smellie. "Raking and sweeping are a common cause of problems, mostly due to bad technique. And swinging a hover mower from side to side has resulted in more than a few injuries".
Here are a few simple tips that really can make a difference and allow you to get the most from your "exercise" in the garden.
Good Technique Tips for Gardening
- Warm Up. Gardening is like any other exercise and you need to warm up. Go for a 5 minute walk before you start, or try marching on the spot for a minute or two.
- Take Regular Breaks. If you haven't done any gardening for a while, don't do more than 15 minutes the first time you go out. You can spend longer each time you return, but still take regular breaks.
- Vary the Tasks. Try to pick 2 or 3 different jobs to do, and alternate every 15 minutes. You will get the same amount done, but will reduce the risk of fatigue or injury.
- Bend Properly. Bend with your hips and not your back. This is much easier if you keep your feet wider apart. It will then feel more natural to bend your knees and hips.
- Avoid Twisting. Wherever possible, try and keep your hips and shoulders pointing in the same direction. Let you arms and legs do the moving, not your back.
- Keep Everything Close. The further your arms are from your body, the bigger the lever effect on your back. Try to keep your elbows by your side, move close to things, and avoid reaching too far.
- Avoid Heavy Weights. When buying compost or other materials, get a few small bags rather than one big one. If you are moving heavy pots around, get yourself a sack-truck or lifting trolley.
- Pick your Tools. Use tools with long handles to avoid too much bending, and invest in ratcheted pruners and loppers to ease the forces needed to cut things. Use a wheelbarrow to kart everything around.
If you would like more information or advice, then please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your circumstances with you and advise whether we can help