However you feel about gardening, let us give you some quick pointers to avoid common injuries so you can get on with enjoying every second of precious sunshine pain-free.
With the darkest days of winter behind us and the sun starting to peek through the clouds on occasion, many people with green fingers will be itching to get back out into the garden this spring. Even if you’re more ‘don’t bother’ than Monty Don some jobs are unavoidable.
If some pruning is on your to-do list, be it a quick tidy of a small shrub or some more dramatic taming of a boundary hedge using a warm-up routine might be useful- spending 30-60 seconds performing each of the following tasks on both sides:
- Next perform a similar movement with the wrists, encouraging nice big circles; and
- Firstly, warming up the shoulders by moving each arm in big, slow circles, encouraging more movement with each circle;
- Lastly,making a loose fist and splaying the fingers as much as you’re able to, stretching as the fingers extend.
Make sure while you’re working not to reach beyond where you feel comfortable, using a ladder or steps if necessary, check they are on a firm, even surface keeping ladders at a 75° angle.
To avoid feeling sore after you have finished gardening, carry out a few quick stretches:
- Gently roll the shoulders in circles, with the arms relaxed by your sides, focusing on pulling the shoulders back and down;
- Standing in a doorway, place one hand at shoulder height on the side of the frame and move your weight through the door to feel a stretch at the front of your chest, do this on both sides.
Another job you might have in mind is digging or turning over flower beds. Begin with a warm up:
- Walking for a couple of minutes;
- Follow this with marching on the spot lifting the knees as high as possible; and
- Finally stand with feet hip width apart, leaning down to each side alternately, feeling a stretch in the sides of the lower back.
Whilst digging make sure the spade/fork is close to your feet to avoid leaning over, push downwards with your foot by engaging the quadriceps muscles (at the front of your thigh), loosen and soil by pushing the handle back to lever it up instead of using your back to lift. Stretches to avoid soreness afterwards include:
- Laying flat on your back, bringing both knees up towards your chest using arms to pull them in;
- Continue laying on your back, bend both knees so feet are flat on the floor, keeping shoulders on the floor, relax knees to each side alternately to feel a stretch in the lower back; and
- Finally, laying on your front, push up through your arms to gently extend the back.
Lastly, you may be thinking about doing some planting.
- Warm up by standing with feet hip width apart and leaning forwards as if to touch your toes, repeat this 5 times;
- Next, from a kneeling position rotate the upper body as far as you can to either side, using your arms to stabilise if needed but try not to lean on them, repeat this 3 times on each side.
During planting, make sure not to repeatedly stretch to pick up smaller plants rather than moving them closer; if the plants are a bit bigger make sure you lift by bending the knees instead of your back and ask for help if you are lifting heavy or awkward objects.
- Stretch out by placing a rolled up towel on the floor and laying with it under the middle of the back between the shoulder blades, with arms out to either side to stretch through the chest; stretch the front of the hips by kneeling with one knee in front of you (as if to propose) and tilt the pelvis back until you feel a stretch at the front of the groin, do this twice on each side.
If you do feel sore after a hard days’ work gardening, place an ice pack wrapped in a towel on the affected area for up to 10 minutes at a time, as many times as you can, try to rest, and drink plenty of water.
Remember you can always book an appointment for any aches and pains regardless of where they came from, and most of all we hope you get some time out to enjoy your gardens!
Looking for some other ways to get healthy? Read our blog here.
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