Grow Plants Not Pains: The Physiotherapy Clinic’s Guide to Gardening
In the summer months our physiotherapists here at the clinic see an increase in the number of patients suffering with back pain caused by gardening. While not a traditional sport, gardening is a great whole body workout and a survey from Squires Garden Centre found that 93% of people in the UK cited gardening as a way to help to keep fit and healthy and 20% of respondents listed it as their main form of exercise.
Gardening can be incredibly hard on the body and in particular your lower back, which is why we felt it was important to share some tips to avoid gardening induced back injuries!
We often talk about the importance of warming up before exercising, for example stretching before a run, and it is just as important to warm up before starting a gardening session. Worryingly 81% of those surveyed by Squire’s never stretch or warm up before a gardening session.
You’re likely to be spending a few hours stooping over, pulling at weeds and lifting heavy pots so it’s important to prepare your body appropriately by warming your muscles; try stretching for a good 5-10 minutes before you get down to your pots and plants.
Lifting heavy watering cans and pots incorrectly is a common cause of lower back injuries, which is why it’s so important to ensure that you take the time to lift correctly. Follow these simple steps when lifting:
- Squat down rather than bend at your waist.
- Use both hands to hold the object.
- Keep the object close to your body.
- Slowly straighten your legs as you lift.
- To place an object down make sure you keep your back straight and slowly squat back down before releasing the object.
Don’t Garden for Hours at a Time
Try and break the time you spend working on your garden into manageable chunks of around 25-30 minutes with a 5-10 minute break.
It’s not just the plants that need hydrating, you do too! Dehydration can result in increased stiffness in your muscles so make sure you drink plenty of water whilst you’re gardening.
Support your back when gardening with a back support belt, there are various options to choose from, a member of our team will be happy to discuss options with you.
It’s not just your back that can take a battering when you’re gardening but also your knees. Consider using cushioning knee pads of a gardening kneeler, especially if you have a low level of flexibility.
Choose your Tools Wisely
Tools that have long handles, extensions or telescopic arms are going to reduce your need to stretch meaning less strain is placed upon your back.
Post Gardening Cool Down
After a tough day of gardening it can be tempting to have a lie down or flop on the sofa, however this is likely to cause your muscles to stiffen up resulting in muscular aches and pains. Let your muscles cool down, stretch out the muscles groups that have been worked during your gardening session and/or maybe go for a gentle walk.
If you need any advice on the most effective ways to stretch to prevent gardening injuries then please do get in touch with our team who will be happy to talk to you.
We hope these tips are useful and help you to enjoy your time in the garden!
Posted by: AislingBirch
Date: Tue, June 05, 2018