Even though the weather has been very mixed the last few weeks, some brave patients have been out in their gardens and we have seen a mix of aches and pains presenting at the clinic.Gardening can be hard work for your lower back especially if you haven’t warmed up. It is just as important to get your muscles warmed up for gardening as it would be for any other physical activity. Here are a few points to help you warm up correctly and make tackling your garden easy!
Warm up your muscles. Take 5 minutes before you start gardening to move your muscles and joints around a little. Simple stretches and exercises such as:
- Shoulder rolls – rotate your shoulder joints backwards 10 x & then forward 10 x
- Hamstring stretches – place your foot on a chair / step – keep your foot flexed and gently lean forwards. You should feel a stretch in the back of your thigh. 3 x each leg & hold for 20secs.
- Quadriceps stretch – bring your foot towards your bum and hold it. 3 x each leg for 20secs. Make sure you’re not using your lower back – looking down you should always be able to see your knee & feel a stretch in the front of your thigh.
- Biceps curl with small weight – using a smallbottle of water / tin of beans flex your forearm to your shoulder. 10 x each with each arm.
- Squats – keep your back straight, legs slightly apart and flex your knees – this will help warm up the muscles in your legs. 10 x repetitions.
Here are a few key things to remember:
- Remember to lift correctly! Bend with your knees and keep your back straight, don’t stoop! It is easy to forget what your back is doing when you’re moving something heavy or busy dragging something from one spot to another but think of your spine! It will thank you later.
- Vary your activities… lifting, digging, racking – by varying the activity you will use different muscles groups which will prevent one group getting over tired and sore.
- Pace yourself! Don’t get carried away and tackle the whole garden in one day, we will get more sunny, bright days (hopefully!). Divide the garden up into sections and tackle each area at different time.
- Clear up as you go. Don’t leave it all in one big pile for the end of the day. This will be easier on your back and shoulders. You are also more likely to get injured if you’re tired.
- Use the correct tools – a foam kneeling mat might be helpful if you’re going to be kneeling a lot, using long handle tools might be easier on your back than bending forward and using light weight machines such as lawn movers or strimmer’s will be easier to move around with than larger and heavier machines.
And the most important one – listen to your body!! If something starts to ache, then stop what you’re doing, take a short break, go make a cup of tea and see if the pain subsides. Sometimes breaking activity up into shorter, more manageable chunks will be better for you and mean you can do more in the long run!