Maintain your spring this Spring! 3 Top Tips to Avoid Injury in the Garden.
Spring is here, and if you are anything like us you are well and truly immersed within your garden planting, pruning, mulching, mowing and maybe even harvesting!
There are many positive health effects of gardening. Studies show gardening can have positive impacts on various aspects of our health, including reductions in depression and anxiety symptoms, stress, mood disturbance and BMI, along with increases in quality of life, sense of community, physical activity levels and cognitive function.
So how can we keep ourselves happy and injury free in the garden?
We have some simple tips and ideas to help.
- Garden design. Think about ideas such as raised beds and having some pots on tables to limit the amount of bending needed. Know your slopes and how they can affect your tasks such as using a wheelbarrow. Understanding your soil and looking after it well also allows more efficient tool use and perhaps even less weeding?!
- Plan your day: - Ask for help if needed, get the family and neighbours involved. Try to pace yourself and not do too much in one day as this will help avoid injury.
- Get stronger: Leading Edge Physiotherapists pride themselves on prescribing functional and relevant exercises for our clients. This will help with some of the more challenging gardening tasks such as lifting, using a wheelbarrow and digging.
- Warm up - This may be as simple as going for a short walk or some gentle back stretches. Leading Edge Physiotherapists can advise you about your body’s needs.
- Try to keep the essentials close by to avoid repetitive trips up and down from the garden bed. A tool belt can be beneficial.
- Quality and correct tool choice. Keeping tools sharp, oiled and the right size for the gardener is beneficial.
Stand up. Long handled hoes and garden tools such as an extendable pruner can help avoid awkward body positioning. These along with other tools should be used close to the body.
- Knee pads and kneeling tools can be excellent accessories. Not only can they prevent excessive load through the front of the knee, they can be used as a standing assist
3. Pacing & variation: (this is a big one!)
- Build up gradually. Your body may need some time to grow accustomed to some of the demands of gardening after the winter. Break up tasks, start small and over the Spring build up the hours and intensity.
- Vary your tasks and body position/demands. This may take some planning, but a variation of tasks will help distribute effort more evenly around the body (the same principle as varying your training at the gym!).
- Understand your limits. This not only relates to the length of sessions, but also how much you will be filling equipment such as buckets, wheelbarrows and shovels.
- Have some rest days: Your body may need some time to recover from the tasks of gardening and some light soreness can be expected following. A day or two off between sessions will allow for recovery, especially early in the season.
We love seeing our clients continue to be active, whether in the garden or elsewhere. If you require any assistance, have any questions, or are looking to improve your strength and function, make a booking online to see one of the friendly Leading Edge Physiotherapists today! Happy and safe gardening!
REFERENCES:Wang and MacMillan, (2013). The benefits of gardening for older adults: a systematic review of the literature. Adapt. Aging, 37, pp. 153-181
M Soga, KJ Gaston, Y Yamaura (2017). Gardening is beneficial for health: a meta-analysis. Preventive Medicine Reports 5, 92-99