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Chiropractic Advice On How to Avoid Gardening Injuries

chiropractor in market harborugh pain free gardeningAs a nation, we do love our gardens and we tend to spend a considerable amount of time and money on getting them to look their best. And at last, we seem to be getting the kind of weather that enables us to get out there! However, as we never know how long the good weather will last, there is a danger of rushing to get all the jobs done, and this leads to a greater chance of injuring ourselves. As a chiropractor, the most common problem I see as a result of over-zealous gardening is lower back pain.

But why can gardening seem so bad for our backs?

chiropractor in market harborugh chiropractic gardening adviceWhen we’re busy working in our gardens, the movements and actions required, such as digging, mowing and weeding, differ greatly to those carried out during the rest of the year, unless you are a gardener by trade! Activities such as prolonged stooping and bending, over-stretching to trim hedges, and holding one position for too long, such as when weeding and planting, all place considerable stress on the ligaments and joints of your spine, particularly the lower back. This causes them to become inflamed and tender, whilst at the same time, your muscles undergo a painful muscle spasm to protect you from further injury. As this inflammation and muscle spasm often develops over time, it may not be until that evening or even the next day that you feel the pain.

There are several ways to help prevent injuries from occurring whilst gardening. Many of us know that it is important to warm-up before exercise, and to warm-down afterwards; this also applies to gardening! The simplest way you can warm up is to take a short walk before getting out in the garden, but you should also include some gentle stretches. These will only take a few minutes and can help protect your back from injury. Once out in the garden, don’t go straight into the heavy work first; start off with lighter jobs as this will lessen the chances of muscle strain. It is also important to choose the right kind of clothes to wear whilst gardening so that you are not wearing clothes that restrict your movement by being too tight.chiropractor in market harborugh safe gardening

The following advice will also help to keep you injury-free in your  garden:

  •  Vary your activity by spending no more than 20-30 minutes on any one thing, rather than working all day on one particular task, and take regular breaks.
  • Use a cushion to kneel on or a gardening stool, rather than bending down repeatedly from the hips.
  • Alternate when kneeling between your left and right knee.
  • Resist the temptation to swing a hover mower from side to side – mow forwards and backwards as you would with a conventional mower.
  • Try and use long-handled tools when possible to reduce the amount of bending you have to do.  Many now also come with telescopic handles, such as tree pruners, that take the pressure off your back.
  • If using a ladder, make sure you are always facing it, keeping your shoulders, hips and knees pointing in the same direction; rather than leaning or reaching, move the ladder or step regularly to keep up with where you are.
  • Get as close as possible to the things you are pruning to avoid over-stretching, or use long-handled secateurs to reach plants and bushes that are beyond normal reach.
  • Use cordless tools as much as possible for better access and manoeuvrability.
  • If laying a patio, keep the slab close to your body and bend your knees.
  • Take regular exercise and keep fit so that you can enjoy your gardening, rather than using your gardening as an exercise to keep fit!

chiropractor in market harborugh injury free gardeningIf after following these tips you still sustain an injury of your muscles, bones or joints, chiropractic may have the answer. For a free initial screen with Dr Dixon DC, Chiropractor at Archway Chiropractic on Lubenham Hill (based at Archway House Natural Health Centre), please call 01858 410820.

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