During the summer it's lovely to be out in the garden, but it can cause a twinge or two, here are some of our top tips to help you PREVENT these issues!
Common Gardening-related problems include;
- Back Pain
- Muscle strains
- Tennis and Golfers elbow
- Knee problems
How can you help yourself?
- Use the right equipment
You may also be able to purchase equipment that may prevent strains on your back when gardening. Look for spades and tools that have long handles and those that are specially designed for this purpose. Visit your local for a wide range of gardening tools and equipment and speak to a member of their friendly team for advice. Always seek specialist advice first before purchasing equipment and always use the tool that is appropriate for the job in hand.
- Take regular breaks!
We advise that if you are spending long periods in the garden you should take a break every 10-25 minutes to give your back and joints a rest. If you are spending prolonged periods lifting, or in a bent position, you may want to make these breaks even more frequent to reduce spinal injuries.
- Wear a pelvic support
If you suffer with back pain you may find that giving your spine and pelvis more support when gardening reduces the stresses and strains on your back. This does not mean that you should do more and you should still take frequent breaks every 20-30 minutes. However you should not rely on a pelvic support and you may find that strengthening your back muscles through specific exercises also helps do the same job.
- Lifting and bending
If you must lift and bend repetitively when you are gardening, you must make sure that you do so in the correct way. Make sure you don't bend from your spine but use your hips and knees. You may find that a pelvic support helps, or even squeezing your tummy and bottom muscles before you bend or lift may help to give your spine extra support.
- Gentle exercise
Knee pain is a common problem experienced by gardeners normally caused by repeated bending and squatting. By strengthening the muscles around your knees you will provide them with more support that may reduce the risk of problems. Gentle exercise such as swimming or cycling 2 to 3 times a week may help. Your Physiotherapist may also be able to prescribe you a specific exercise program tailored to suit your needs.
- Elbow problems
Using shears and cutters often results in elbow pain. This may be caused by inflammation of the tendons around the elbow, muscle strains through overuse or nerve irritation. If you are using shears regularly you must ensure that you take regular breaks and stop if you start to experience pain. Ice application may reduce symptoms, as can specific wrist and elbow exercises. Your physiotherapist may also be able to show you how to tape your elbow yourself when gardening which may help to reduce the pressure on certain structures.
- Work at your level
Ensure that working areas in greenhouses are positioned at an appropriate height - about elbow level or just below is often enough to reduce bending the spine. You may also be able to sit at this height in your greenhouse and still work effectively. Raised beds are also a good idea for reducing bending and spinal strains.
- Check your posture
Do a little at a time and think about your posture particularly when mowing and planting. Try to keep your back straight at all times and never lift heavy items without assistance. It is also advisable that planting is carried out from a kneeling position to reduce stress on the back.
These tips are designed to help you to reduce the risk of developing problems, however, we cannot guarantee that if you follow this advice you will not experience any of the conditions listed above. If you have any concerns or queries, or if you want to discuss any of these issues, please contact North Yorkshire Physio at email@example.com