The sun is shining (fingers crossed it stays!) the Chelsea Flower Festival will be in full swing soon, and we all want to get out into the garden. To help keep your back in shape and avoid aches and pains, we’ve put together a few top tips….
1. Always warm up
Gardening can be physically challenging, therefore it’s important that before you get your hands dirty, you warm up to minimise the risk of injury. Take a few minutes to do these warm up stretches.
Stand tall and lengthen your body. If the sun is out, enjoy feeling the warmth on your body, if it’s not, well, I guess you’ll have to visualize! And take a few deep breaths.
March on the spot for a minute or two, or until you start to feel warm.
Then, with slow, controlled movements, reach up above your head with one arm, then repeat with the other arm. You should feel a gentle stretch in the side of your body. Alternate arms, as though you’re climbing a rope. Don’t bounce or jerk the movements, remembering to breathe. Release your arms and shake them out gently. Follow this with a gentle shoulder press, clasp your hands behind your head, press your elbows back until your feel a gentle stretch across the front of your chest and shoulders.
Lift up one foot a little and find your balance (lean on a chair or a wall if this helps), and rotate your ankle slowly, loosening up your joint. Bend and straighten your knee, too. Keep your movements small and gentle. Then switch.
Rotate your wrists. Hold your hands out in front of you and gently rotate your hands to loosen them up. Then, bring your hands into a soft fist and open and stretch your fingers in and out a few times.
2. Lift heavy items correctly
Lifting heavy items in your garden with poor technique is one of the biggest causes of back injuries. When lifting, your feet should be shoulder width apart with one foot slightly in front of the other. Bend your knees and squat down, bending from the hips and knees only. Keep your back straight, your shoulders back and your chest out. Remember to lift slowly by straighten your knees and hips – NOT your back! And don’t twist. Hold the item close to yourself and set it down by squatting again, with your knees and hips.
Avoid twisting your body while lifting, and never try to lift a heavy object above shoulder height.
3. Kneel to plant seeds and weed, don’t bend
We recommend that you kneel instead of bending to plant seeds and weed. This takes significant pressure of your back and it will decrease the risk of back injury in the long run.
If you spend a lot of time kneeling on the ground, it is a good idea to purchase a kneeling stool or pad. This will significantly help to protect your joints and knees, and be far more comfortable.
Keep in mind that everything in your body is connected. Therefore, protecting your feet, joints and knees will also help to protect your back too.
4. Protect your feet with supportive, enclosed shoes
We know that you want to be as comfortable as possible whilst working in your beautiful garden and when the sun is shining, donning sandals may seem the perfect, cool choice. However, sandals, flip-flops and open toed shoes can cause you all sorts of problems. Slips, trips and broken toes have been seen here at our clinic as a result of gardening in inappropriate shoes. It is recommended that you invest in a pair of shoes that provide excellent cushioning; good arch support and we’d recommend shoes that can be tied! It’s also advisable to wear a pair of socks. Socks absorb all the moisture caused by sweating and help keep your feet from rubbing.
5. Drink plenty of fluids
As the weather hots up, it is important to stay hydrated. It’s recommended that women should drink on average 1.6 litres of fluid and men should drink about 2.0 litres of fluid per day. That’s about eight glasses of 200ml each for a woman, and 10 glasses of 200ml each for a man. Take a look at our handy graphic to work out the correct amount for fluid for your weight. Remember clear fluids are best, water and not alcohol!
If you do find your have a problem with your back or joints, don’t ignore it and let it get worse. An ice pack is ideal as first aid, then do give us a call for an appointment and we’ll be able to get you back enjoying your garden as soon as possible.
Torbay Chiropractic Clinic, 01803 329799
The information in this blog post is from our own experience. We love gardening and have found these tips have helped us enjoy our gardens all summer (and winter) long. Only you know what your physical conditions and limitations are, so if you have any questions or doubts about your own aches and pains, please see your medical provider or call us on 01803 329799