Gardening Tips

By Jamie Turnbull, Physiotherapist

The weather is warming up and many of us are spending more time in our gardens lately. This can involve a range of activities from light to heavy tasks. It is easy to sustain an injury or feel pain with awkward movements, too much loading, or sustained postures. Adhering to some simple principles will minimize your risk and allow you to get outside and enjoy your garden all summer long.

Do not bend over too far when doing a pulling activity, and do not overreach. Use tools with a longer handle when possible.

Combining bending and twisting together can get you in trouble, this can add strain to your back. When lifting, keep the load directly in front of you.

Do not bend from the waist. Squat or kneel on a kneeling pad. Sit on a milk crate or a low stool to weed or plant; this will be easier on your back.

If you can move a task so it is at counter height then do so. This will be easier than trying to crouch or bend over.

Use a wheelbarrow to move heavier loads. Even if it is not a heavy load, a bag of soil or mulch can be an awkward lift so a wheelbarrow still makes the task much easier (well worth the investment).

Pacing is important! Spread the task out over a longer period of time, alternate between tasks and rest in between. If you get absorbed into a task and do it for too long, you may pay for it later in pain or discomfort.

Take your time and don’t rush or cheat. When we are in a rush we lose focus and this is when we get into trouble.

Your next posture is your best posture! Be dynamic and move a lot.Periodically move in the opposite direction of the posture you sustained. Do not sustain one posture for several minutes at a time. Sustained postures restrict blood flow, and lack of blood flow leads to mechanical pain.

Enjoy the summer and be safe!