Spring is just around the corner, which means it is the perfect time of year to start planning updates to your garden. However, before you run outside to start weeding, digging, and planting, it’s important to take a moment to think about safety in the garden.
Many patients visiting our Homewood Chiropractic clinic in Fareham have back injuries which occurred while gardening. They may have lifted a heavy bag of potting mix incorrectly or simply spent too long bent over.
To help you avoid these types of gardening injuries, our Fareham chiropractor will share some tips for back safe gardening.
The Dangers Of Gardening
Gardening is regarded as a healthy past time and rightly so. It is a fantastic way to improve your cardiovascular fitness, physical strength, and mental health. If you grow vegetables, if can also provide you with a great source of nutritious food. However, there are a few potential dangers that you should be aware of, including:
- Repetitive strain injuries
As any gardener can attest, bending over for long periods can be tough on the body. It can even lead to repetitive strain injuries where muscles, tendons, or ligaments become damaged.
- Herniated discs
Gardening usually involves a fair amount of bending over and the lifting of heavy objects. Unfortunately, this carries with it the risk of a herniated disc. This condition occurs when an intervertebral disc is ruptured due to trauma or degeneration.
- Trips and falls
While gardening, you will probably encounter a lot of rocks, roots, and other trip hazards. Any of these objects can lead to a fall which could cause a back injury.
- Other hazards
You will also need to watch out for bacterial exposure from the soil, insect bites, tetanus, poisonous plants, and excess sun exposure. Even the tools you use can be dangerous if mishandled.
Back Safe Gardening Tips
Stretch before you start
Stretching will prepare your body for the work day that lies ahead. It increases blood flow to muscles, lubricates joints, and makes connective tissue more flexible. Not only does this make physical actions easier, it protects you against injury and reduces any soreness after a busy day in the garden.
Perform between 5-10 minutes of stretching before you begin, and have small stretching breaks throughout the day as your muscles become sore. Focus on the back, hamstrings, shoulders, and arms when stretching, as they will take the most strain as you garden. If you are unsure about which stretches are best, ask our Fareham chiropractor. You can also check out this short video.
Take regular breaks
Most of the people who wind up visiting our Fareham chiropractors with a gardening related injury have simply overdone it. They have spent 5 or 6 hrs in the garden without a break, which has caused a repetitive strain injury or back pain.
To avoid these types of issues, take a break every 30 minutes or so. Grab a cup of tea, stretch your back muscles, and relax. By taking your time, you will avoid injury and find gardening to be a much more enjoyable pastime.
Lift heavy items correctly
Many of the patients visiting our chiropractic clinic in Fareham with a back injury have hurt themselves while lifting a heavy object incorrectly. You should do your best to use proper lifting techniques as described in this short guide.
Switch things up to avoid muscle strains
Avoid doing a single task for long periods, as it can increase the risk of a back injury. So, instead of weeding for 2 hours straight, weed for 30 minutes, then water your plants or pick some tomatoes. Come back to weeding later on. Rotating your tasks will give the muscles and ligaments in your back a much needed rest, helping you avoid injury.
Avoid heavy lifting as much as possible
Look for opportunities to reduce the amount of heavy lifting you do, including:
- Using a trolley or wheelbarrow instead of carrying things with your hands
- Instead of carrying a large bag of soil to your pots, carry the pots to the soil
- Dividing large loads into smaller ones
- Installing an irrigation system instead of carrying heavy watering cans around
Remove trip hazards when possible
There are plenty of trips hazards in the average garden. However, many of these hazards can be easily removed. Start by keeping your pathways clear, removing protruding rocks, branches, and other debris.
If you have paved or concrete paths in the garden, make sure they are level, without any parts that jut out and create a trip hazard. Remove any pots which are in the way of where you normally walk and keep hoses coiled up when not in use.
Keep gardening (but the back safe way) ….
Gardening is a great activity for people of all ages and brings so many benefits not least health and wellbeing benefits.
Our chiropractic team are keen to ensure you keep gardening but doing it the back safe way by following the advice in this post.
If you do find yourself suffering pain or discomfort after a session of gardening our Fareham chiropractors are here to help you. You can call our clinic on 01329 280 283 to book an appointment with one of our chiropractic team.