We have been swamped by patients with gardening injuries in recent weeks, many of which are completely avoidable.
We could write a book on how to avoid gardening strains but here are 5 golden rules.
- Dress comfortably, be prepared to shed or don layers as required. Gardening is exercise; start gently and slowly, avoid heavy work until your muscles are warmed up and, if you stop to chat or take a rest, put on an extra layer whilst you stand around. If your muscles cool down they will be more vulnerable to strain.
- Plan your work. Long summer days encourage too many hours to be worked in one stretch. Doing a couple of hours before and a couple of hours after lunch will enable you to do a lot of work and still have some energy for other things! Always work by the clock, not the task. It is tempting to work until the job is finished…….
- Digging is dangerous! The traditional english spade is an ergonomic disaster – particularly the shorter ‘ladies’ models. Try to get a long-handled spade (ideally one with a stirrup style blade), avoid digging too quickly and too enthusiastically and always dig close to your feet, not reaching forwards. Avoid digging if the ground is dry and hard, or waterlogged, and keep to small spadefuls.
- Rotate jobs – be like the gardeners of old; have several jobs on the go and vary your tasks throughout your work period. Every 15 minutes or so have a change – mowing, digging, hoeing etc. You will be using different muscles and joints and using them in different ways, so protecting them from over-use or repetitive strain.
- Use a wheelbarrow (2-wheeled ideally) – don’t carry heavy or awkward loads about the place. And be especially careful when doing hard landscaping projects – patios, rockeries, pools……all that bending, lifting, twisting…..nasty