National Gardening Week starts on the 30th April and this year’s theme is to encourage gardeners to share their love of gardening. As chiropractors, gardening is an activity that we encourage people to get involved in. Not only does it keep us active but it has the added benefit of getting us outdoors and close to nature. All of these are beneficial to our overall health and well-being.
However, as chiropractors we do have to caution gardeners of the possible risks gardening holds to their backs, muscles and joints. Unfortunately there are many opportunities to do yourself some harm when gardening from rushing into jobs ill prepared, spending too much time on repetitive actions or overstretching to reach plants, not to mention all the lifting and carrying that can be involved.
Our Ealing chiropractors have put these key pieces of advice together to help you stay safe in the garden:
Make sure you are wearing appropriate clothing. Avoid wearing anything too tight or will constrict your movement. However, do watch out if you wear anything too floaty or has loose belts that could get caught or caused you to trip over. Wear sturdy non slip shoes to help you avoid slipping over.
Take a few minutes before starting to warm up with a few gentle stretches. Plan to start on lighter jobs and build up to the ones requiring more effort.
If you have materials such as compost or sand that needs to be moved – do so by moving it in smaller bags. If it’s in the boot of your car then think about shoveling it directly into a wheel barrow. Invest in a garden trolley if you find you have a lot of lifting and carrying to do.
Only spend 20- 30 minutes on a task to avoid repetition. Take regular breaks and stay hydrated.
Avoid bending – it’s better to kneel or squat to do the weeding or planting. A padded kneeler is invaluable to protect your knees and make it more comfortable.
Work as close to the area you are seeing to to avoid over stretching. Over stretching will put unnecessary strain in your muscles and joints. Consider using equipment with long handles which can help you avoid overstretching.
If you are going to use a ladder make sure you are always facing it and keep your knees, hips and shoulders pointing in the same direction. Avoid leaning and over reaching by moving the ladder frequently to keep up with where you are working. Any kind of ladder must be firmly and safely positioned. If you can have someone else there to keep an eye on things.
At The End:
Repeat some simple stretching exercises.
We hope that by following the above advice you will stay safe gardening.
The British Chiropractic Association has produced a 3 minute video that is well worth watching with demonstrations of how to keep your back safe when gardening. We highly recommend you take 3 minutes to watch it.