As autumn progresses and the leaves begin to fall, our minds turn to the plentiful garden jobs to be done before winter settles in. Whether raking up the piles of leaves, wheeling a wheelbarrow or tidying dead growth, these chores can cause pain and injury. Unfortunately, it is only too common at Woombye Chiropractic to treat patients who have “overdone it” with their gardening activities.
Here are valuable tips to prevent back pain whilst tackling the garden:
Warm up and stretch – Gardening is like any other exercise; you need to warm up first. Take 10–15 minutes to briskly walk around the garden and warm up your muscles. Stretch before and after, targeting your back and core, shoulders and arms and leg muscles. Don’t go straight into the heavy work; start with the lighter jobs as this will lessen the chance of any muscle strain.
Take regular breaks and stay hydrated – Vary your activity to prevent your body from being in one position and avoid repeating the same actions for a long period of time. Take a break every 20 minutes to stand up straight and stretch. Gardening is a form of exercise, so it is important to bring a water bottle and stay well hydrated.
Avoid overreaching – Overreaching is often a cause of gardening injuries, as considerable strain is placed on your body when you over reach. Get as close as possible to the plants you are pruning and avoid over-stretching to reach the area you are dealing with. Invest in long handled secateurs to reach plants that are beyond normal reach.
Become friends with your wheelbarrow – Many injuries occur when lifting and moving heavy weights. Use a wheelbarrow to transport heavy loads and remember you don’t have to move everything at once – it is much better to break the load into smaller and lighter loads. If it looks too heavy, it probably is! Ask a family member or neighbour to help you move any heavy and awkward objects.
Posture! Posture! Posture! Posture is a window to your spine. Bend using your knees, not your back. Keep your back straight and tighten your core muscles. Wear a support belt to protect your back. The support will give you additional protection for your back.
Keep the rake or shovel near your body – Don’t over stretch by leaning too far forward or dragging your arms too far behind. Keep your body in line with the rake or shovel, use short precise movements and avoid twisting movements.
Pay attention to any numbness, tingling, weakness, poor posture or pain. Any of these may indicate it’s time to consider chiropractic care. It may just be muscle pain but it may also be a warning sign of an underlying issue.