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Gardening ain’t just for grannies

Gardener planting flowers in the garden, close up photo.

Sean FitzGerald | Special to the Fitzhugh

May long has just passed, and the flower sales have started. There is a strong community of gardeners in the town of Jasper and here are some tips to get you through gardening season pain free. 

  1. Watch your posture or positioning: Staying in one posture or position for too long can take its toll on your knees, back and neck. Gardening involves a lot of bending forwards and stooping over our flower pots and flower beds. Take frequent breaks and walk or move around onto other tasks. Moving in the opposite position or posture like standing up or extending backwards can alleviate some of those kinks or feelings of stiffness. It doesn’t have to be long. Just 10-15 repetitions arching your neck and back can be enough.
  2. Achey Knees: If your knees are giving, you grief find a stool or something you can sit on to take the strain off those knees. Sitting may be more comfortable for a time but again remember that sitting too long can cause aches elsewhere so don’t forget to move. You can also use knee pads or a gardening mat to make kneeling more comfortable. If you are looking at redesigning your garden look at getting raised beds so you can work at waist height.
  3. Lift mindfully: This is going to sound a bit crazy to most of you, but recent research suggests lifting posture doesn’t really matter as much as we thought it did. The age old adage of “lift with your legs not your back” applies if it feels comfortable to do it that way. To put your body in an awkward position just so you can lift with your legs can also create issues. It’s best if you take your time to set up, pay attention to what you are doing and move efficiently. Back injuries occur most often when we are stressed, tired and not paying attention to what we are doing. Or be smart and use a garden cart or wheelbarrow to help you move your heavier items around. Repetitive movements also play a role in injuries. As we fatigue our muscles, we increase our risk of injuring them.
  4. Be safe in the sun: This includes staying hydrated and protecting yourself from UV rays. Staying hydrated is easy. Just drink when you’re thirsty. Your body has spent thousands of years perfecting its ability to tell you when you should drink so you don’t have to get your calculator out to tell you how many mL per hour of activity you should be intaking. Secondly, wearing appropriate clothing and sunscreen is also key to avoiding sunburn and overheating. 
  5. Gloves are great: Gardeners suffer from early season cuts, scrapes and blisters, so do your hands a favour and pop some gloves on.

I hope you found this helpful as you get into gardening season. If you are struggling with aches and pains, please give our friendly staff a call, and we can get you booked in with one of our wonderful physiotherapists or massage therapists. They will do their best to get you back in action.

Sean FitzGerald is a physiotherapist and owner of the Jasper Physiotherapy and Health Centre.

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