Spring is upon us, time to get back into the garden and start doing all the things we need to do to ensure we have a glorious outside space. So what do we do? We get out there and get on with it.
Let me share a statistic here before we go any further. Come spring, gardening-related injuries reach levels of epidemic, both in numbers and intensity. Rushing back into your garden in spring is tantamount to a professional footballer going straight into a match after the holiday. Doctors are warning people to at least warm up, if not get fit, before going out in the garden.
Gardening injuries vary widely, from your common garden variety blisters and calluses to crushed extremities, puncture wounds, pulled ligaments and, especially worryingly, herniated discs. As an absolute minimum, you ought to be doing some gentle stretching and warm up exercises before going out to the garden. There is more you can do to protect your joints and muscles but the warming up is pretty important whatever your age or fitness level.
There are many ways to make sure you are able to keep gardening throughout the summer. For example, to cushion your knees, use a knee pad or fold up an old blanket when you have to kneel down. Another trick is to alternate tasks so you don’t spend long digging but move on to pruning for a little while, then do some weeding and come back to the digging. This will avoid repetitive strain injuries.
It is especially important to squat instead of bending over from the waist, especially if you are lifting something up, and remember to face the way you need to go so you don’t turn awkwardly and twist your spine. This way you use your leg muscles instead of your backbone to bear the weight as you straighten up. Similarly, if using a hover mower, go up and down in straight lines, don’t swing from side to side. Also, using smaller implements, especially when digging helps because there is less to carry. It may take a bit longer but you will actually finish the job instead of spending the rest of the day in casualty.
Perhaps the best, simplest and most succinct advice would have to be: if it hurts, stop.none