Treat yourself as an athlete – gardening is a sport without the contact! Gardening can give you a real workout. A warmup should include warming up muscles and lubricating joints which should mimic the type of activities you are going to do in the garden for example, reaching with loppers or digging.
· Use a holster belt to put secateurs in to stop you bending down so often to pick them up.
· Use long handled tools +/- telescopic arms to reduce stretching.
· Make sure your loppers and pruners are sharp and preferably with a ratchet system to reduce strength required to cut branches.
· Weightlifters wear belt in the gym, why not wear a lumbar support for gardening if you are lifting pots and digging
· Half fill watering cans or use a hose for watering or even an automated irrigation system to prevent back strain.
· Use a wheelbarrow or pot carrier to move heavy objects
· Use of a kneeler stool helps to protect your knees and other joints when kneeling
.Make sure your ladder is secure and on a stable surface.
Type of gardening activity
Avoid one activity for longer than 30 mins. Every five minutes stand up and perform easy back bends. Try and take breaks and change your body position, it is easy to lose track when you love working in the garden! If you have been weeding change to an upright activity. Our bodies tend to tell us when it has had enough! If you get any pain stop and go for a five min gentle walk. Use of hotpacks, supports, over the counter medication (paracetamol, ibruprofen – if you have taken before) might all help. Pain, tingling and numbness in the buttock and leg are signs of sciatica.
Digging and shovelling
Do not stoop. When lifting or shovelling take the strain with your legs and not your back. Lunge rather than bend over. Keep your back slightly arched. The muscles in your legs are stronger than the muscles in your back.
Weeding and planting
When weeding or planting in your garden don’t stoop down, however tempting it may be. Move close to your work. Kneel down on a mat or use special knee-pads or a kneeler. You could also use a low stool. Alternatively, use a long-handles fork or hoe so you do not have to bend. Do not strain by overreaching.
Be careful when you are pulling up a deep-rooted shrub or tree. Remember to take the strain on your leg and arm muscles rather than your back. Keep close to the object and hold it firmly with your feet apart, bend your knees and lean away from the object. Pull the object by straightening your legs.
When lifting in the garden
Keep your back straight, bend your knees and push up with your leg muscles. Keep your feet about18inches apart for balance.
Don’t reach for the load or try to pull it towards you – it may be heavier than you expect! Move closer to it instead. Hold the load as close as possible.
Test the weight of the object by lifting one corner. If the load is heavy you have several options. Roll or push rather than carry it, divide the load and make several trips, use a wheelbarrow or trolley, ask for assistance.
NEVER CARRY A LOAD THAT PREVENTS YOU FROM SEEING WHERE YOU ARE GOING!
Garden Design to help avoid injuries
-Raised beds. Some of the sturdier raised beds include an edge where a gardener can sit while planting/harvesting vegetables.
-Large containers for vegetable growing
-Narrow beds which avoids over reaching
-Avoid bare patches of soil which would encourage weed growth... MULCH!
-Slow-growing shrubs are easier to maintain than annuals and herbaceous perennials. ----Use ground cover plants to help suppress weeds.
-Grow plants in containers as they are easier to reach.
-No-dig method. This method of gardening involves spreading of manure or compost and fertilizer over the surface of the flower bed. It is ideal for gardeners with bad backs or those who want to go vegetables but cannot face the thought of all the digging. Many gardeners argue that the no-dig method is better for the soil
Put your tools away
Take a few deep breaths and admire your work!
If you think you have pulled something then:
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