Gardening doesn’t have to be back breaking work…
This time of year lots of our patients are enjoying being outside in the garden. Gardening benefits us in many ways…both mentally and physically. Physically, it increases our flexibility, circulation and muscle tone. Mentally, it can provide us with a feeling of accomplishment when we finally get rid of those pesky weeds, whilst taking a vacation from those never ending thoughts running through our minds.
Below are a list of clinical proven benefits from gardening….
- Reduced risk of stroke
- Burns calories
- Stress relief
- Improved immune system
- Being in the moment
- Decreases chance of osteoporosis
- Reduced risk of dementia
Gardening can be enjoyed by anyone of any age however, the intensity of weeding, watering and planting can get overwhelming, especially if it leads to aches and pains.
We have been seeing a fair few gardening injuries lately, so here are some top tips to help keep you as straight as your borders…
- Gardening is a form of exercise, so don’t forget to do some simple warm up stretches before you get going to help prepare your muscles for the task ahead.
- Use suitable tools – by using tools with extendable arms it means you can avoid unnecessary bending, putting less pressure through the small of your back.
- Gardening pillows and repeat… gardening pillows! This is a gardener’s must have accessory to protect those knees.
- Take regular breaks or move around – staying in the same position for prolonged periods of time can lead to muscle strain and fatigue. Changing your position regularly, stretching or switching between gardening tasks can help prevent a build-up of lactic acid and muscle over-exertion.
- Use flower boxes or planters at an accessible height such as window ledges – not only do they look nice but maintaining them is far easier as you don’t need to stoop.
- Protect your skin – wear gloves to avoid dirt aggravating your skin and a hat to prevent too much sun getting to your head and neck. Don’t forget the importance of SPF and UVA cream on exposed skin to help prevent skin damage…. this means in the winter as well!
- Not only is watering the garden best done at either end of the day but it also helps you stay out of the midday sun.
- As well as keeping your hydrangeas hydrated, don’t forget yourselves… make sure you drink plenty of water before, during and after you’ve been in the garden (and no, wine does not count!)
- Enjoy gardening little and often – don’t take on too big a project with not enough help. Half an hour daily is better than 3 hours on a Saturday morning.
- Lift correctly – Always lift with bent knees and a straight back.
- If you feel pain… STOP… listen to the warning signs as tired joints are more prone to injury.
- If you do hurt yourself, seek advice or treatment from your Osteopath to get you back out in that garden asap.
Gardens don’t come into bloom overnight, so if you want to enjoy your garden and reap the rewards long term, steady and slow wins the race.