Now the gardening season is upon us again, here are some top tips to help you minimise the risk of injury to your back, knees and wrists.
- Warm your body up before you start gardening and do a short cool down when you finish.
Here are a few helpful exercises you can do to stretch your muscles out before you start…
- Knee hugs: Bring your knees gently towards your head three or four times.
- Rotational chain stretches: From the knee hug position, let your knees drop the right side, hold onto them with your right hand, stretch your left arm out along the floor with your palm facing up and turn your head to look at your left hand so you get a nice stretch across your body. Hold this stretch for 8 seconds and repeat on the other side, repeat this stretch three times each side, alternating side to side.
- Glute/piriformis stretch. Lie on your back, bend both your knees so you are in a knee hugs position again. Cross your left ankle over your right knee and holding your leg behind your right thigh, gently bring it towards your chest. You should feel a stretch in your left hip/buttock area…if you need to make this stretch stronger, you can flex your left foot. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then repeat on the other side. Repeat this stretch three times alternating side to side.
- Shoulder rolls. Sitting or standing, circle your shoulders backwards for 15 counts, then circles them forwards for 15 counts.
You are now good to go! When you have finished gardening, have a hot shower or bath, ice any sore areas and do this sequence again to stretch out your body.
- Pay attention to your posture and work position! You should try to avoid too much bending, twisting or leaning forwards. You should assess to see if using tools, different setups e.g raised beds/standing planters will help take the strain off your body. Regularly check your body positioning-make sure you are close to what you are working on so you don’t have to lean forwards, stay in as neutral a position as possible-keeping your shoulders in line with your hips and turn your body to face the direction that you are working in instead of twisting your back to do the same activity. Try kneeling on the ground or bending from your knees instead of your back.
- Get some support! Using back, knee and wrist supports can be really helpful to prevent injury and well as using knee pads to protect your knees when kneeling on the ground.
- Take regular breaks! You should try to avoid being in 1 position or doing the same repetitive movements for too long, if you are someone who gets engrossed in what they are doing, set your phone alarm for 20-30 minutes so you know when it’s time to stop for a break.
- Stay hydrated! Dehydrated muscles and joints are more likely to tire quicker, sustain an injury easier and recover slower so when you are gardening, make sure you are drinking water regularly.