As the days lengthen and Spring appears, so the garden beckons for most of us, and sometimes gardening aches and pains with it. Like it or loath it, there are jobs to be done out there. Before you get the mower out, make sure that you follow some simple tips to avoid gardening aches and pains. Gardening is not without physical stress and strain, so be aware. These 10 guidelines are designed by the International Chiropractic Association who say:
“THE BEST PREPARATION FOR A SAFE SUMMER OF GARDENING IS A BODY PROPERLY CONDITIONED AND SUPPORTED BY EXERCISE, GOOD POSTURE, AND CHIROPRACTIC CARE ALL YEAR ROUND”
The Nine Tips to Avoid Gardening Aches and Pains
- Warm up with light movement or a brisk walk.
- Know your strengths and limitations. Don’t overexert yourself, vary your activities and take regular rest breaks.
- Avoid bending repeatedly while standing upright when performing ground- level work like weeding. Get closer to the task by kneeling or sitting on the ground or on a gardening bench or mat, rather than bending or twisting at the waist.
- Keep your back protected when you stand up from a sitting or crouching position. Rise up by straightening your legs at the knees, not by lifting your torso at the waist.
- Lift soil and plants by letting your arms, legs and thighs carry the load; bend and straighten at the knees instead of the back and hips.
- Use long-handled tools to give you more leverage and help you avoid having to stoop while digging, raking pushing or mowing.
- Switch hands frequently when doing prolonged raking, hoeing or digging actions. Repetitive motion on one side can bring on joint imbalances, postural misalignment, muscle spasms and pain.
- Don’t work for too long in one position, especially one that is awkward or unusual. This can reduce circulation, restrict mobility and promote strain injuries.
- Carry objects close to your body and centre of gravity reducing the risk of straining your neck and back. Handle smaller, more manageable loads at a time.
It’s a Marathon not a Sprint
The benefits of getting out in the garden far outweigh any drawbacks, so go for it, but like any kind of exercise, build up slowly. The movements and exertion of gardening is something your body may not have done for several months. If you find you have “overdone it”, and have gardening aches and pains, then rest, use an ice or heat pack to ease them (contact us if you need advice on this), and keep moving without carrying anything to ensure your body recovers quickly. If in doubt, get advice from your health professional: any underlying health conditions or aches and pains that don’t go away after a day or so should be thoroughly checked out.
Gardening and chiropractic actually have a lot in common! Just as tending to a garden with regular, planned work can keep your garden tip-top, so looking after your spine and nervous system with regular checks can prevent you having to have an extended, intensive period when things are not at their best. So keep a routine in your garden, and keep up a routine to stay fit and healthy.