We often see patients in the clinic who are not normally very active and have decided the garden needs some attention, spend several hours bent over pulling, digging and twisting, and the next day can barely move! The body simply isn't used to this marathon activity session, and like going to the gym for the first time in months you are bound to be sore!
The shoulders, back, neck and knees tend to be the key areas that will be affected, so lets look at ways you can reduce your risk of injury in the garden.
1. Warm up before you begin. Do a 10 minute walk to get your heart rate up followed by some stretches for your shoulders, upper and lower back, neck, arms, and hamstrings.
2. Don't over do it. If you start to feel sore or achy it's time to stop or switch to a different task to give those muscles a break.
3. Change positions frequently to avoid using one muscle group too much and getting stiff, try to change positions every 20 minutes at least.
4. Use a wheelbarrow to carry plants, pots, clippings etc from place to place rather than carrying heavy items. We invented the wheel for a reason- to make life easier for us, so use it!
5. Bend your knees when pulling out weeds and plants. This allows us to use our bigger leg muscles to provide the pull force, rather than out back muscles which could potentially be strained.
6. Use a knee pad for under your knees when you are kneeling to avoid placing too much pressure through them. We have sacks of fluid called "Bursa" at the front of our knees, and when too much pressure is placed upon them they can become inflamed- Bursitis.
7. Warm down after you have finished your gardening session with a gentle 10 minute walk. It may be the last thing you feel like doing, but it will do you the world of good to get some gentle flowing movement through those joints and muscles to help them loosen up, and your body will thank you for it tomorrow! Run yourself a warm bath- heat is also great for helping muscles to relax and ease pain.
8. If you experience any pain after you have been gardening, call your physio (08) 9345 0842