I [Jess] never enjoyed gardening, the idea of getting dirt under my fingernails always annoyed me but this year, something has changed. Maybe I’ve finally come of gardening age? Or is it that I’ve started to find the simple joy in nurturing and cultivating my garden? Who knows?! One thing I do know is that gardening isn’t always the best for our bodies. We tend to find ourselves in hunched over positions wrestling with weeds, over-reaching for rogue branches or lugging around lawnmowers and strimmers.
Here are my top tips to help you look after yourself as well as your garden:
1 – Careful Lifting
Bags of compost and watering cans are often heavier than they seem. It is always tempting to lift as much as you can in one go so you don’t have to keep going back and forth, but if things are too heavy, you are putting yourself at risk of an injury because of the unnecessary straining.
Whilst it may take a few extra trips to carry it all, only fill half the watering can, spread the load in each hand, cut the compost bags in half to make them lighter, and ask for help.
2 – Get Kneeling
“I’ll only pull out a few weeds” I say to myself as I bend at the hips, and a few minutes later I wonder why my back aches as I straighten up. We’ve all done it, thought that we’d only be in a position for a few seconds, but minutes later we’re still bending even though we know its no good for us.
Get down on the floor by having a small stool or, my personal choice, a jazzy knee cushion available and actually use it! That way it doesn’t matter how stubborn a particular weed patch is, you can remain there a bit longer as you’re in a comfortable position.
3 – Stop Reaching
You’re now kneeling on your cushion and there’s something just out of your reach, but that’s okay because you can twist and stretch and voila! Jobs a good’un right? Wrong – when we over-reach or twist we increase the pressure in the joints and discs in our low backs which can result in pain.
Unlike anything planted we can move, but most of the time we are too lazy too. So pick up your cushion or stool and actually move along the border!
4 – Take Breaks
As with everything, regular breaks are needed as it gives your body a chance to recover from the strain it is under. Also, how long can you really prune for before you become all pruned out?
My general rule is to spend 20 minutes in one position and follow it up by 20 seconds of movement such as stretching or a walk around the garden to admire your work. It doesn’t have to be anything major, but frequent changes to your position will make it much easier for your body to recover.
5 – Pace Yourself
Gardening is the workout we all do without realising it until it’s too late. We are using our bodies in ways we aren’t used to, and we tend to be out there for hours at a time just to get the job done.
With that in mind, create a plan of what you want to achieve from your gardening session and remember to schedule in breaks (mine are always scheduled around snacks!)
6 – Stay Hydrated
Most of the time we don’t realise just how big a job is going to be until after we’ve started it and that means that we can be outside working for longer than we anticipated. As we all tend to be fair weather gardeners, it’s really important that we keep ourselves hydrated (not just the plants!) and apply sunscreen regularly.
So there are my top tips for looking after yourself in the garden. You don’t have to make any huge changes, but it’s important to look after yourself first so that you can continue to cultivate your garden into a masterpiece. You grow guys!
For more information please contact us on 01452 883232 or speak to one of our chiropractors today.