Getting into the garden

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Although the weather hasn’t really been co-operating this spring, it’s still the start of gardening season! Gardening can be a very satisfying and healthy activity, and most homeowners have some sort of garden growing.

If you’ve ever spent a few hours in the garden, you know that it can also be a strenuous activity and often causes muscle soreness and joint pains! Gardening typically causes two types of injuries:

Acute or traumatic injuries such as back injuries, muscle strains, joint sprains or a shovel laceration!
Repetitive stress injuries like tendonitis, bursitis and aching joints and muscles.

A few simple tips can help keep you in the garden and out of the physio clinic this spring!

Safe lifting techniques. Your hip and leg muscles should be used for lifting instead of your back. Bend your knees to lift and keep your face straight ahead instead of looking down. This will put your spine into a good alignment and help you lift those big bags of topsoil.

Work close to your body. It’s really tempting to stretch as far as you can to pull that last weed, but the more you twist and stretch the harder it is on your body. Get into the habit of getting up and moving rather than stretching too far. If you can’t easily reach it, get up and move.

Make things easier! Using raised beds or planters can reduce stress on your back because you don’t have to get right down on the ground. Using garden stools and kneeling pads can also reduce strain on your back.

Keep your butt behind you! Or in other words…don’t twist! Move your feet rather than twisting your back. Twisting while lifting is one of the biggest causes of back injuries.
Take frequent breaks. It’s easy to get carried away and want to plant everything you brought home from the garden store in one go, but learn to pace yourself. You may not feel any pain during planting, but several hours without a break may mean you can’t get out of bed the next day. Set a timer for 30 minutes, get up, get moving, get a drink of water and go do something else for a few minutes.

Bend over backwards! One of the most common gardening complaints is low back pain. Your back gets tired and painful when you are bending and twisting all day. Every time you get up to move, take a few seconds and bend backwards. Just place your hands in the small of your back and tilt your chest towards the sky. This extension motion of your spine will help reduce disc pressure and keep you limber enough to work the next day.

And of course, the number one way to avoid any gardening injuries…hire someone younger to do it for you!!

If you do run into pain and stiffness this gardening season, don’t let injuries take root. The earlier you get something looked at, the quicker you’ll be back in the dirt! Kemptville Physiotherapy Centre is staffed with therapists who know all about gardening problems, so come on in and let us give you a hand!

For all your gardening aches and pains, contact Kemptville Physiotherapy Centre. 613-258-7661 / www.kemptvillephysio.com.

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