03 Apr Spring into Pain Free Gardening Action!
Spring is here and it’s that time of year when the sun starts to shine and the plants (and the weeds!) start to grow!
It’s also the time of year when we see lots of patients who have injured themselves whilst being enthusiastic and spending excessive amounts of time in the garden. We’ve already seen 5 cases in the last 10 days.
Gardening is of course a superb form of exercise and recreation, providing fresh air, cardiovascular activity, strength and co-ordination, but it must be treated with respect!
Some patients have been spending over 4 hours at a time gardening, and unfortunately this has caused some serious aches and pains. The gardening injuries we commonly see affect the lumbar (low back) spine, nerves in the back and neck, and tendons in the shoulder, wrist and hands.
It sounds obvious, but taking a break from the repetitive postures is the most sensible way to approach gardening.
It’s often the times when your body is still and in one position doing a job for a long time that causes more strain than more physical work like digging.
So if you’re reaching up high, take regular breaks to gently rotate the spine and shoulders, and then stretch down towards the ground. Or, if you’re crouching over plant borders, sweeping or pruning it’s important to arch and rotate the back and shoulders every 20 minutes or so. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you, or use a smaller container to collect weeds and debris so you have to get up to empty it more often.
It’s very easy to spend several hours flexed over only to find you’re unable to stand up afterwards – and I am speaking from experience!
Please also be careful lifting heavy items. Plant pots and bags of compost are much heavier than most of us are strong enough to manage alone! Moving full pots from one place to another can place quite a strain on backs and shoulders.
Please take a look below for some stretches that are easy to do anywhere, and might save you from an injury in the garden and then having to come and see us!
Stand tall with your feet shoulder width apart. Place your hands firmly on your back. Gently bend backwards until you feel a stretch, hold for a second and then stand tall again. Repeat 10 times.
Grasp the elbow with your opposite hand. Pull across the chest until you feel a stretch at back of arm and shoulder. Hold 10-30 secs. Repeat once or twice.
For further help and advice on avoiding or dealing with gardening injuries, please contact Halo Physio here
Blog compiled by Michelle Henry, Principal Physiotherapist at Halo Physio