Prevent lower back pain and stiffness, sciatica, and arthritis from working in the garden

If you are experiencing these or other areas of discomfort, these 6 tips may help you to not only enjoy gardening but to enjoy it for longer.

Did you know that gardening is as physical as playing sports or exercising in the gym? Think about it. You dig and lift heavy weights, you squat to pull out the weeds, you travel around the garden as if it were a circuit.  Gardening is a great way to stay fit and active, strengthening the body and the mind. You just need to treat gardening as you would any physical activity and take care of your body whilst you’re enjoying it!

Here are six tips to keep your body active in the garden whilst preventing garden injuries.

  1. Stretch before you start!

As with all exercise, it’s a good idea to stretch before you start. Stretching gets you ready to move. It warms up your body and increases the blood flow to your muscles, warming them up too! It also gets the connections going between your nerves and muscles, boosting you mentally, and it can increase your flexibility.

  1. Think about your footwear

You wouldn’t play football or dance a jig in flip flops (or you shouldn’t!), equally, you shouldn’t be gardening in them either. This is particularly important if you have mobility or balance issues.  Choose a shoe with good support or if you’re doing an appropriate task, then go barefoot. Not only will you be stable, you can enjoy all the benefits of earthing.

  1. Use a timer!

This isn’t about beating your fastest time to weed the vegetable patch, it’s about pacing yourself. If you’re enjoying the great outdoors you may not realise how long you have spent on one particular activity. Vary what you do. Limit yourself to 10 minutes of weeding, before moving onto digging, or deadheading flowers. This range of movement will help to prevent injury.

  1. Get down on all fours!

A lot of activity in the garden involves reaching down to the ground level. When you are continuously bending from the waist or stooping, you are more likely to strain your joints.  Getting down onto your knees protects these areas. If you find getting up and down difficult, invest in equipment to help you – or raise your garden beds!

  1. Look after those knees!

This leads on well from point 4 as we’re talking about knee pads and kneelers! When you pull on your gardening gloves, consider how you can protect your knees too.  Knee pads and knee cushions are specifically designed to reduce knee pain whilst providing a cushion for your knees. Or you can use a garden kneelers with handles that will give you support as you move from kneeling to standing up.  

  1. Stay hydrated

Gardening is an exercise and just like with all exercise, you will get hot and sweaty. You need to replace all that lost water by drinking. Water is the best but consider adding a splash of juice or electrolytes to replace what you’ve lost.  

If you’ve overdone it in the garden and are feeling the strain on your body, ask us to take a look and offer advice on treatment and future prevention. You can book an initial consultation with an OsteoAllies osteopath in Fetcham, Hitchin or London here.