Work in the Garden without the Strain
Adelaide Physiotherapist, Linda Shacklock, offers advice on how to work in the garden without overdoing it and causing aches and strains.
Photographs Zoe Rice
With many of us heading out into the garden for a bit of stress relief during the lockdown, make sure you're doing it right to prevent aches, pains and strains. Australian Physiotherapist, Linda Shacklock, offers some advice on how to work in the garden without overdoing it.
Get comfortable while you work
Backache is common when hunched over in the garden. Most tasks involved getting down and dirty and bending is just part of the job. Shacklock advises that it's not the bending that causes the problem - it's how you bend and crouch. Make sure that your knees do not extend past your feet - the best position is to bend by placing your pelvis and hips in a backwards position to bend your knees and not your back. This position will go a long way towards limiting strain on your back muscles and spinal discs.
Whilst in a squatting position it is important to avoid any large twisting movements. To turn your body, move your feet to assume a new position.
Keep your body flexible
As with most other strenuous activities, you can injure yourself just as easily. Gardening can be hard on the body and quick to bring about aches and pains, so it is important to take a break as often as possible, make sure your posture is right, and also vary your gardening tasks so that you can adjust your posture regularly and prevent strain.
When you remain in one position for too long, your body quickly starts to ache, while moving around and changing your posture will prevent aching muscles. Do some gardening low to the ground, but only for a short time before working at a higher level in an upright posture.
Should you find yourself in the position of suffering chronic aches and pains, a physiotherapy assessment will not only alleviate the symptoms, but you can also ask for advice on how you can use your body more efficiently by adopting the best postures and movements to avoid future aches and pains.
Keep stretching to a minimum
Where you need to stretch to trim shrubs or overhanging branches, keep these periods to a minimum as holding this position for too long will result in shoulder and upper back pain. Place yourself as close as possible and make sure to check that your elbows are bent. It is also a good idea to have a ladder for any tasks that require stretching and work at a comfortable level.
Use a ladder when trimming or pruning so you are positioned close to branches or shrubs to avoid shoulder and upper backache.
Keep your garden tools in good condition
They say a good workman should never blame his or her tools, but when you are working with blunt or rusty garden shears or secateurs, the effort required to use these will result in muscle and tendon strain. It is important that garden tools be kept clean and oiled and sharpened as and when required.