Gardening has been shown to reduce stress, provides exercise and gets you outside, but there is a reason that spring is our busiest time of year in clinic as it coincides with the start of the gardening season.
Gardening is like any other sport, you need to warm up first to avoid muscle strain or injuring your back. Maybe go for a 10-15 minute walk before the real work begins to get the blood flowing and warm up the muscles. Start off with the smaller jobs first before getting into the heavier work.
Whilst pruning, avoid over-stretching or invest in some long-handled secateurs. kneel or squat and use a knee pad for the weeding and planting. Use the right sized and weight tools for each job. Avoid leaning and over reaching when using a ladder and always have someone to support the ladder, so it’s not unsteady.
For lifting the heavier items, keep the item close to your body, bend your knees and keep your back straight. Let your the big muscles in your thighs take the strain off your lower back. For big bags of soil or compost split them into smaller bags or use a wheelbarrow. If you are having deliveries, have them delivered as close to the site that you are working on.
Be careful of bargains at the garden centre or DIY store, that half price compost may be a bargain, but is carrying it to the car going to cost you an injury or an extra trip to see your chiropractor? Buy smaller bags that are easier to carry.
The trick with gardening is to vary your tasks. Don’t spend more than twenty minutes on one job, mix up your workload. Take regular breaks and stay hydrated. Plan frequent breaks, don’t overdo it and mind your posture.
After a day in the garden do some gentle stretches to cool down and use heat or ice on your lower back. If it feels more muscular use heat, if it feels more joint based then use ice. Don’t forget your regular adjustments with your chiropractor to keep you mobile and active.
The British Chiropractic Association have produced a helpful video and advice sheet on how to avoid injuries whilst gardening: