Around this time every year, I have many patients tell me they’ve “done something” doing the “G” word.
No, not gymnastics, golfing or even grooving. It’s gardening!
After a long winter, the sun suddenly makes an appearance and you realise that the lawn needs mowing, the borders need weeding and seeds need planting. And on that first sunny day, we all rush outside, ready to tackle our backyards.
BUT, your body (just like your flowers) has been hibernating all winter and isn’t used to this type of movement.
Imagine if you did a few hours of exercise in one day after resting all winter? You’re putting yourself at risk of injury and you can see why this so often leads to an extra trip to the Chiropractor!
Here are a few tips to ensure you can garden happily and healthily
View the garden as a “circuit class”
Break up all the jobs you have to do into bitesize, 15-20 minute sections. That way you’re not spending too much time doing one type of movement. Don’t worry about finishing it as you’ll come back to it later.
Remember You Have Two Hands
Try to alternate which side of the body you’re using to stop the tissues from tiring as easily.
For example, you’re digging with a fork or spade with your left hand forwards and your right on the handle. Swap over after 10 and put the right hand forward for another 10 times before swapping back again. The same can be done for pruning.
Get Down On One Knee
When kneeling on both knees, unless your hip hinge (or “booty pop” as we sometimes jokingly call it in clinic) is perfect, you’re likely to be bending forward through your lower back. The lumbar spine isn’t too keen on holding this position for long periods so it’s best to try and avoid it.
The easiest way is to kneel on one knee only, as this is more likely to keep your lower back safe.
Take Regular Breaks
Make sure you’re taking a break, at least every hour. Make the most of the weather with a cool drink of your choice outside, or it’s it’s still a little chilly, pop inside for a cuppa. It’s a good excuse to keep yourself hydrated too!
Clear Up Before You’re Tired
Don’t underestimate how long it’ll take to clear up those pruned branches or put the equipment back in the shed. This is still hard work for your body so make sure you haven’t used all of your energy up. This is the time you’re likely to injure yourself as the tissues are fatigued.
Lastly, remember my rules of pain during exercise:
- If you’re getting a sharp pain, stop the activity
- If the pain is getting gradually worse, stop the activity
- If the pain is low level and isn’t getting worse, it’s okay to continue
- If you’re suffering the evening of or the day after the activity, rethink how you did it, or ask my advice on what to do
Let me know if you have any other queries,
Doctor of Chiropractic