Is your garden more of a pain than enjoyment?
Not surprisingly, one of the most common reasons for injuries while gardening is lack of rest and uneven distribution of effort. Abundance of enthusiasm and strength during the sunny spells can be misleading and make it harder to hear your body’s natural signals signifying the need to slow down and take some rest to recharge your batteries.
The simple explanation for possible aches and even injuries is an adaptation and strain of those muscles and joints of your body which may have not been utilised for a while. Therefore, if not allowing time for those to adjust naturally by pacing the sessions and recharging your strengths, you may develop aches and pains, commonly back, neck and arm, days or even weeks later.
These are a few gardening habits leading to respective body pains:
- Lower back pain as a result of raking, shoveling, lifting and reaching forward during pruning and weeding.
- Neck and shoulder pain (nerve root irritation) resulting from pulling the starting cord of a mower, pruning or
hunching over in the garden.
- Wrist stiffness resulting from weeding, using pruning sheers.
- Joint soreness from bending down weeding in the same pose for a prolonged period of time.
- Finger soreness from gripping tools, secateurs, etc.
To avoid any possible injuries and pains and secure enjoyment of gardening follow these easy tips:
- Before you start any work no matter how small it is, gently stretch your
muscles to prepare your body for what follows.
- Start off with easy tasks and progress to the more difficult ones so that you are effectively
warming up and pace yourself – little and often is better.
- Make sure of the balance in the body by varying tasks, sides and activities (i.e. whatever you
do on one side, do on the other). Try to change activities approximately every 20 minutes not allowing the strain on one particular group of muscles.
- Vary your posture and stretch during your gardening session to restore blood flow and prevent cramping or
muscle spasm from static posture. Have a walk around for a few minutes between each job to give yourself a break.
- Avoid repetitive bending tasks and drink plenty of fluids especially on a hot day.
- Make sure you feel comfortable in any position required for a particular job, whether it is kneeling or
reaching to avoid any overstretching and injury.
- Heavy work such as digging and pulling out roots is the most common cause of injuries, therefore it’s
better to start by loosening the ground first, use leverage to assist and don’t dig when the soil is too dry.
- To reduce the build up of muscle tension make some time to warm down after your satisfying gardening time
by going for a short walk or doing some stretches. Warm bath or shower to relax your muscles would be of the most
Be mindful of what you are doing, take care of your back and, most importantly, enjoy your gardening!
Remember – we are always here to help, pop in for a chat or treatment if needs to be.
Selby Osteopaths and Selby Wellness Clinic