Written by Hannah

As the weather begins to warm up and we find ourselves in the middle of Spring, there often are a few more gardening related injuries amongst our patients. Look after yourself while you are gardening with the following tips:

  1. Warm-ups. Yes! It’s like you are going to do sports, you need to do some warm-ups.
  2. Correct lifting technique. When lifting and carrying heavy items such as full potting mix bags, make sure to bend the knees and keep the back straight, while keeping the load close to your body. If you can, use a trolley or wheelbarrow to move heavier items around the backyard. Avoid twisting while your back is bent, especially when carrying a heavy load.
  3. Avoid sustained positions. Your body is designed to move, and sustained positions can increase loading through tissues which can lead to injury. Take regular rest breaks to stand up and stretch, or alternate between different gardening duties such as potting and sweeping.
  4. Avoid repetitive actions such as bending or twisting. Use a step, seat or kneeling pad for longer activities such as weeding, so you avoid prolonged or repetitive bending.
  5. Move heavy loads with ease. Use pot stands with wheels for heavier pots and plants to allow for easier movement around your home. This will eliminate the need for carrying heavy pots and reduce the risk of injury.
  6. Reach height with tools. Avoid prolonged and repetitive gardening above shoulder level by using a step or ladder to raise your height. For example, when trimming a high hedge, use a step so you are cutting at chest height or below. This will reduce the strain on the shoulder and neck.
  7. Use Ergonomic tools. Gardening tools are designed to reduce the difficulty of a task and reduce strain on the tissues. Make sure your tools are sharp, so less force is required to complete the task. Accessories such as knee pads or a kneeling bench can be helpful in reducing strain on the back or the knees, especially after surgery.
  8. Take your time. If you are new to gardening, take it slow and build up your capacity. Gardening can be quite taxing on the body and injuries occur when the load placed on tissues exceeds the tissues current capacity. You wouldn’t run a marathon without training, so don’t expect to be able to garden for hours on your first day. You might garden for 30 minutes and wait to see how your body responds the following day. Then slowly increase your time spent gardening at a tolerable pace.

It is also important to warm up and cool down after gardening. Exercises can help preparing the muscles for load and improve flexibility.

If you do find yourself with a gardening related injury or would like some more information on how to keep yourself in tip top gardening shape, contact our clinic to make an appointment with one of our experienced physiotherapists.