Autumn: the season of leaves falling in soft piles on lawns, misty mornings and wood smoke hanging in the air. It is also the time of year when we put our gardens and allotments to bed for the winter, but as daylight shortens and time is at a premium, it is often at weekends that we leap into action – swapping office chair for spade without a second thought for our bodies. We don’t think twice about straining to lift bags of compost from car boots, stooping to pull out weeds, pushing lawnmowers or digging for hours until finally, something has to give, and it is often our poor old backs.
Thousands of gardening related injuries are reported in Britain each year and many can be avoided with a few simple precautions. We wouldn’t expect athletes like Mo Farah or Jessica Ennis-Hill to compete without first preparing their bodies for physical activity and neither shoulder we.
Here are twelve tips to help you to avoid garden related back injury:
1. Start with gentle stretching to help warm up muscles and joints before activity.
2. Bending and digging for long periods can put a strain on your back. If you are new to gardening or a lapsed gardener who hasn’t visited the veg patch in a while, then build up gradually and increase activity over time.
3. Take regular breaks and change to a new task every twenty minutes to rest muscles, tendons and joints. Try to alternate light work such as pruning with digging or planting.
4. Keep items like secateurs and string in a tool belt to avoid the need to bend down.
5. Use a pad or cushion to protect knees when weeding. Move in close to the area you are tending and avoid reaching and tugging.
6. Know your limits and take care when lifting. Assess the weight of an object and gauge whether it can be rolled or pushed. This of alternatives: can the load be distributed over several trips using a wheelbarrow or can someone help you?
7. If you do decide to lift something: bend your knees, keep your back straight and hug the load close to your body. Keep the relocation distance short and move in that direction without twisting.
8. Hover mowers should be pushed forward in the direction you are cutting the grass and not swung from side-to-side, however tempting.
9. Use a small spade when digging to limit the amount of soil you are lifting. It may take longer but your back will thank you for your patience.
10. Half-fill watering cans if carrying any distance or better still, let a hosepipe take the strain.
11. Avoid slips and falls by tidying tools away safely and clearing hard standing of debris and wet leaves.
12. Do not continue gardening if your back hurts and seek advice if pain remains.
Should you be unfortunate enough to sustain an injury, our team of experienced physiotherapists are here to help you at our modern state of the art practice.To make an appointment please contact us on 01279 414959 or visit our contact us page.