The sun is shining, the weather is warmer and it is time to enjoy the outdoors. For some of us that means spending time tending to our gardens. Gardening can be a rewarding task but it can also be challenging for your body. Here are some tips to help you prevent injuries:
Warm up prior to gardening
Gardening can be a strenuous task, so it is important that your body is prepared. Go for a brisk walk around the block or your yard prior to starting. Follow these 6 simple dynamic warm up exercises to get your body ready.
1. High knees
Lift your knees as high as you can. Remember to tighten your core muscles as you
march on the spot.
2. Shoulder circles
Hold your arms out to the side. Circle forwards and then backwards.
3. Wrist circles
Circle your wrist in a clockwise direction and then repeat in a counter clockwise direction.
4. Trunk Rotation
Stand tall and tighten your core muscles. Without moving your hips, rotate your trunk gently side to side in a controlled manner.
5. Side to side bending
Stand tall and tighten your core muscles. Bend sideways by slowly sliding your hand down your thigh.
Kneel down on your hands and knees. Make sure your hands are under your shoulders and your knees are under your hips. Alternate between the following two stretches.
Look forward as you drop your belly down towards the ground to arch your back. Then tuck your chin to your chest as you round your back like an angry cat.
It is important to remember to pace yourself when gardening. Injury can occur with repetitive loading to your tissues during activities such as weeding or digging, taking frequent breaks while performing these tasks will help prevent injury. Try switching between different activities in order to change the stress on your body. For example, weed for 10 minutes and then switch to another activity such as digging, watering or pruning.
There are many tools available to make gardening more enjoyable and easier on your body.
1. Wear supportive footwear to protect your joints.
2. Protect your back during repetitive weeding by sitting on a potting bench or stool.
3. Support your knees by kneeling on the ground using knee pads or a foam pad.
4. Use a raised flower bed to minimize the amount of bending through your back.
5. Choose the proper tools. Use a wheelbarrow for lifting heavy loads. Wear gardening gloves to protect your hands. Use a padded or enhanced grip to support your hands when gripping shovels, spades and tools.
Use Proper Lifting Technique
Remember to use proper lifting technique when moving heavy objects. Bend your knees and keep your back straight when lifting rocks and potted plants from the ground. Do not twist while holding heavy objects and try to keep your knees and trunk aligned. Lower the object down to the ground by bending your hips and knees.
Use these tips to help keep your green thumb a healthy one. Remember to warm up, take breaks and use the proper gear/ergonomics. If you are experiencing any aches or pains, one of our physiotherapists would be happy to assess you to identify the source of your injury. Enjoy your gardens.
Written by: Meghan Marley- Registered Physiotherapist
Exercise Photos from Physiotec