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Ten tips to keep spring gardening injuries at bay
Thursday 13 April 2017

Spring is here

The much awaited spring weather is now here and you probably have a long list of gardening jobs that need doing. You may be new to gardening and feel encouraged to get involved during the RHS National Gardening Week, 10th to 16th April 2017, or you may be an experienced gardener itching to get back to it after the winter.

Approach gardening with caution

But all gardeners new or experienced should approach gardening with caution. Gardening injuries are very common especially in spring. Gardening can be just as demanding and strenuous as any sporting activity. Jumping straight back into gardening or just getting started after the winter’s hibernation without warming up has been likened to a professional footballer rushing back to competing after a break without training.

Often, the first bright and sunny day of the year inspires people to get back into their garden to tackle and tame it. You may do hours of digging, mowing, pruning and weeding and not realise the strain you are putting on your body until the aches and pains materialise later.

Common gardening injuries

The most common gardening injuries include lower back pain and strains to ligaments and joints. The elderly tends to be more susceptible to injury.

Some people may suffer from: a slipped disc when twisting and turning whilst lifting, bursitis due to repetitive pressure when kneeling during planting and weeding, or shoulder impingement caused by overhead arm motion during hedge clipping and chopping back undergrowth.

How to keep safe

Most gardening injuries are preventable. Here are ten tips to keep you safe in your garden this spring.

- Warm up your muscles and joints before gardening by gently stretching and don’t forget to stretch and cool down when you’ve finished too.

- Don’t try and do all the gardening jobs in one day. Do them gradually and pace yourself to your own fitness level. Initially you should aim to do no more than one and a half to two hours gardening per day and work up to longer days. You’ll enjoy gardening much more by breaking it up into bite sized chunks and it’s kinder on your body.

- Chop and change your gardening jobs so that you don’t end up doing hours of repetitive movement and make sure you take regular breaks. So perhaps do a little digging, then a bit of cutting back, then a section of weeding and don’t forget to take a short break every 30 or 45 minutes.

- Use a knee pad, kneeler, old cushion or blanket when kneeling down.

- When digging use a small more lightweight spade if you don't need to dig up too much as this will put less strain on your back.

- Lift properly no matter how big the item is that you’re lifting. Lifting incorrectly leads to many back problems. Simply remember to bend your knees and keep your back straight, both when picking up and putting down. Also face the direction you are carrying the load to avoid twisting your spine.

- Push your mower in front of you and face the way you are cutting the grass so that you don’t twist from side to side. Use long handled tools, such as forks and trowels to reduce your need to stretch and bend awkwardly.

- Use pruners and loppers that have a ratchet system and keep their blades sharp. Cutting will be easier and will put less pressure on your back and shoulders.

- Stop any activity if your back, shoulder or knee hurts.

Help at hand if needed

Here at Winfield Hospital we hope that you will enjoy gardening this spring without injury. However, we are here to help if you are suffering from a gardening injury. Our comprehensive orthopaedic service can diagnose and treat injury or wear and tear problems affecting your shoulders, knees, hips, elbows, hands, wrists, feet and ankles that have been caused by gardening.

We offer convenient appointments with highly skilled orthopaedic specialists and for physiotherapy treatment to increase your mobility and reduce pain. Call us on 01452 331 111 or contact us online.

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