Pain free gardening

Apple tree small

Springtime and we are in lockdown, judging by how difficult it was to buy seeds at the weekend it seems like a lot of you are making veggie patches. Making use of spare time and space in the garden or allowed exercise at an allorment. Physically and emotionally it’s a fantastic thing to do for yourselves, I’ve been out digging and planting, my lower back would have thanked me if I’d taken notice of the tips below.

Before starting take a short walk or do some simple stretching exercises to warm your muscles and loosen your joints.

Aim to spend no more than an hour or two in the garden when you first start, build up the time slowly.

Take small, regular breaks every 10 - 20 minutes, and stop at least once every hour to have a good stretch and try varying your tasks regularly to reduce the amount of time you spend using the same set of muscles.

Make sure your digging posture is correct. Use a smaller spade dig in front of you and use your foot to push the shovel into the soil, leaning into it from above so you're pushing down rather than out in front of you. Then bend your knees when you're lifting up the soil.

When raking, try to keep your back straight and pull the rake towards your body rather than to the side, as this helps to reduce twisting movements.

Use a kneeling pad or an old cushion when you're planting to avoid bending down too far, and take regular breaks to do stretch your back.

Bend from the knees, not from the waist, when lifting a large or heavy object try stand the object upright, position feet shoulder-width apart, close to the object, squat or bend at the knees, tighten stomach muscles, roll the object onto bent knees and then up into arms, hold the object close to your body so that the thigh muscles are doing most of the work, and slowly lift by straightening knees. Reverse to lower loads.

Putting in raised beds can help if constant bending is difficult.

Happy pain free gardening

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