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News Spring Gardening

Gardening season is coming, now that winter is finishing it is time to get back out in the garden to prepare for another growing season

After a winter away from our gardening tasks, this is the time we subject ourselves to sudden bursts of unaccustomed strenuous activity and really put our backs at risk. It is not a good idea to have a serious bout of digging or sweeping after a long periods of inactivity or sedentary life.

We need to prepare ourselves and manage the risks, remember activity is good and avoidance is not safe!

Breaking up jobs is obviously important so as not to overdo it, but it is also important as a lifestyle change to use gardening as a way of breaking up a sedentary day!

Let’s prepare and protect but also get active, enjoy it, live better and live longer!


Do some simple stretching exercises or take a short walk simply to loosen the body up before you start. It is important to understand that fatigue is exponential, that is the rate of fatigue accelerates the longer you go on. Research has shown that 20 to 30 minutes of bending can recover with rest for the same period of time but 50 minutes of bending can take more than seven hours to recover.  Being tired after 20 minutes simply needs a rest but at 50 minutes tissue fatigue needs to heal, it is a quite different thing!untitled-1_6_1


Think about how to make your garden easier and more interesting, vary the layout to create raised beds and paths into difficult areas.


Always look for an alternative to lifting, use a wheelbarrow to move objects where possible and remember wet soil is a lot heavier than dry soil!


If you must lift something, remember to bend the knees AND bend the hips so you sit into the bend, keep your lower back arched and your head up.


When you use the muscles of the back you should balance them by also using the muscles of the front, tighten your tummy muscles as you prepare to lift.


Turn by pivoting the feet, keep hips and shoulders facing in the same direction. Actions that involve twisting should be varied so shovelling should be alternated left and right handed and raking should be alternated left/right but also towards you (over-arm) and across you (under-arm), yes it will feel odd but by changing the load direction you will fatigue much more slowly and are much less likely to reach the point of tissue fatigue (damage).


Keep objects and work surfaces close to your body which will prevent you from levering the back incorrectly. Bend knees and squat or kneel on a garden cushion for weeding or planting and remember to move rather than reach.  Going down on one knee and keep moving the other foot is a good way.


It is a small cost to get the right tool for the job.  Forks, spades, hoes and trowels all come with long handles, some tools have extension or telescopic arms which reduce the need to stretch.


Don’t try to do it all in one session it is tempting to get the whole job done, the key to avoid back pain is to take regular breaks (every 30 minutes) and vary the tasks you do so that you use your body in a number of ways.



Use hoses on reels or get a
nother watering can and half fill both, one in each hand to bala nce the load.




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