Now that spring is here, I have no doubt some of you will be pottering about in the garden. This is fantastic! It gets you out in the fresh air, into the sunshine, and doing some healthy physical activity.
Unfortunately, it sometimes is a cause for back pain in my clinic. Gardening itself is not dangerous, but because it’s the first time in a while doing these movements, the body often kicks up a fuss in retaliation to this!
Here are a few tips to prepare yourself for some time in the garden, and reduce the likelihood of you needing your osteopath!
Warm up – practice the movements
Gardening itself can be quite physically tiring, requiring you to get into all sorts of positions! So make sure you gently warm your body up in preparation. This can be a walk, a few squats, rotating the back in both directions, and moving your shoulders in all directions. Start with small movements and build.
Work smart not hard.
Make a plan ahead – focus on one bit at a time – don’t do everything at once.
Wet the earth before digging – this loosens up the soil.
Don’t pull that root – cut it up!
Get the proper equipment – there’s a tool for every job.
Limit your time
Start off with 10-20 minutes and build up from there. You may feel okay at the time but its usually later things start to ache. Regular breaks will mean you can do more in the long run.
Any sort of physical activity helps keep you fit and your muscles strong; it will improve your body’s ability to garden and build it’s resilience to injury.
Heavy objects – lift with legs
Your back is a strong structure and will not “go out” but muscles can go into a protective muscle spasm if asked to do too much in a position that it’s not used to.
For particularly heavy objects, its useful and sensible to use your legs to carry majority of the weight.
Get a gardening buddy/ hire a professional
We can do things more quickly and easily when we work together. Many hands make lightwork. Also it gives you someone to chat to whilst gardening, much more fun!
Acknowledge when a job might be a bit too tough – get a professional in. The Gardner’s Guild is a great resource to search for acredited local gardener.
I hope that helps and you’re able to enjoy improving your garden pain-free. Any more tips or photos of your garden, send them in!
And as always, if you’re in pain we’re here to help – so get in contact!