Can you believe that we’ve just had the hottest early May bank holiday on record (since 1978)?! What a lovely weekend that was! I hope you had a nice weekend. I was out in the garden with my wife and my in-laws doing work around the garden.
Like me, it seems that many other people were out working in the garden too since we’ve had a few people booking in for treatment with aches and pains following the weekend.
Are You Physically Ready For The Garden?
While a spot of gardening may seem like a harmless activity to do on a nice warm sunny day it is actually one of the main seasonal reasons that people come in to see us osteopaths with pain.
Gardening seems harmless because it is low intensity and doesn’t get you out of breath (unless you’re digging) but what you may not have considered is that it is very repetitive and you can often find yourself going at it for hours.
Not only that but it is easy to find yourself in all sorts of awkward or bad postures; bending and lifting from the spine, kneeling or squatting.
This is where the problem lies. Most people are “out of shape” and have done very little exercise leading up to the gardening season and they aren’t used to these positions, especially to hold them for the duration that’s needed in gardening.
What Injuries Do We See From Gardening, And How Are They Caused?
The main injury we see in the clinic as a result of gardening is back pain. Having been in the garden most of the weekend it’s easy to understand why. Many activities require a lot of bending and twisting such as digging, pulling roots or picking stuff up.
It is this repetitive bending and straightening that causes the muscles in the lower back to become fatigued. If there was resistance added to these movements such as lifting plant pots or digging then there will be some slight pulling of the muscles (similar to what happens in weigh training) and muscles will become slightly torn.
At the time you won’t notice any pain because the muscles are warmed up. However once the gardening has finished and your muscles cool down, that is when you start to notice the onset of stiffness or pain.
What Can Be Done To Prevent Aches And Pains From Gardening?
Since most of the injuries that occur are a result of weakness and a lack of endurance it would make sense to improve your overall strength and fitness.
If you know you’re going to be more active in the garden over the coming summer months, now would be a good time to start preparing your muscles. There are two components that we would recommend you work on; improving your strength and improving your endurance.
This is obviously a more long term approach.
But what if it’s too late and you’re planning to get in the garden this weekend?
Don’t panic just yet. If you think you’re at risk of getting injured don’t take on too much in one go.
Be aware of what activities you’re doing and what postures you’re getting into. Are you able to improve your posture? Are there any ways you can take the strain off (e.g. can you sit instead of stand)?
Another cause of gardening strains is being fixed in one position for too long like when you’re weeding. So set yourself areas of the garden to work on or periods of time and then take regular breaks. In your breaks, stand up, move around and get yourself a drink of water.
What Should You Do If You Do Get Injured?
As I mentioned earlier in this post, we see a lot of gardening related injuries at this time of year. If you do end up doing too much and your back seizes up (or anything else of course) then I suggest you book yourself in for an osteopathy consultation with myself or one of the other osteopaths here at Precision Wellbeing.
Of course it is possible that your injury will improve on its own, but in most gardening cases the injury can linger unchanged for weeks until treatment is sought.
You can book by calling us on 0203 356 7060, or you can book online by clicking the button below.
Then in the mean time, before your appointment you may find some helpful tips in our free pain ebook;
Click Here To Download Your Free “5 Action Steps For Immediate Pain Relief” Guide