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How to stay safe while gardening!

It's sprouting out there...

The actions required for gardening are quite different from those carried out through the rest of the year, so it is important to prepare your muscles and joints prior to attacking your garden at this time of year.

The main cause of back pain when gardening is wear on the ligaments and joints due to the unprepared muscles. The prolonged period this is done for further aggravates.

Digging, stooping and bending over, all place considerable stress on the structures in the lower (lumbar) spine, causing them to become inflamed and tender. This in turn triggers a protective muscle spasm which gives rise to the deeper, duller, achy type of pain that may occur over the following few days.

Top tips:

  • Kneel on one leg rather than bending from the hips - and use a pillow or cushion under the knee. Try to vary the tasks of the day into short bursts of different activities rather than slogging away at one thing all day.

  • Plan your primary tasks and don’t overdo it. Spend twenty minutes doing a particular task and then change to another. This avoids putting strain on muscles you have not used for a while.

  • You should exercise and keep fit so that you can enjoy your gardening and other leisure activities, rather than use your gardening as an exercise to keep fit.

  • If you suffer from knee problems and tend to stoop rather than kneel, try a gardening stool to sit on.

  • Keep yourself warm and covered. Keep shirts tucked in as this prevents muscles from becoming chilled.

  • If you ache for more than a few days after gardening then seek the advice of a chiropractor. Any normal ‘post- exercise soreness’ should ease relatively quickly.

  • When mowing with a hover mower, try to resist the temptation to swing the mower from side to side in an arc. Instead, mow forwards and backwards as you would with a conventional cylinder mower.

- Jesper is a Chiropractor at Southcote.

For more information on how to prepare for gardening, or for help recovering from a gardening-related injury or otherwise, speak to your practitioner or our front of house team who would be happy to refer you - 01622 661883

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