By Mike Stockbridge of Elstead Chiropractic and Therapies Clinic

Hard to believe, but every year, chiropractors, osteopaths and masseurs are inundated with victims of gardening injuries!  “As the weather begins to warm up and we head out into our gardens again, garden–related injuries are not uncommon but, as a multi-disciplined clinic, we have numerous methods available to us to rectify these injuries and get you moving again.”, explains Mike Stockbridge, principal chiropractor at Elstead Chiropractic and Therapies.

Here are some guidelines that Gardeners should be sticking to:-

  1. When digging, hoeing or raking, change over with your leading hand every 5 minutes – this will mean you twist your body equally in both directions, avoid stressing the joints on one side of the pelvis more than the other and prevent the pelvic joints from slipping – the most common cause of low back pain that we see.
  2. When kneeling with a trowel, change knees every 5 minutes and, if possible, change your trowel hand too. This will mean, again, not twisting the upper and low back in one direction for prolonged periods – it is prolonged asymmetrical postures that lead to vertebrae twisting out of position, leading to inflamed stuck joints.
  3. When using shears, remember to drop your arms to rest the shoulder muscles every few minutes. Prolonged raising of the arms sets off tendonitis that can, in the worst cases, lead to a frozen shoulder.
  4. When picking up heavy objects, we all know to ‘bend zee knees’, but should also remember to pull in the belly button half an inch. Those of you who do Pilates will know that this is a way of activating your abdominal muscles so they act as a muscle corset around your low back, preventing the pelvic joints from slipping.
  5. When laying a patio, lift the slabs against one thigh whilst walking with them, then switch to the other thigh for the next slab. Again, this will help to keep your body taking the strain in a more symmetrical way and avoid muscles pulling on one side of your back. Again, couple it with pulling in the belly button.
  6. When pruning or deadheading, if you have osteoarthritic finger joints, use neoprene Thermoskin fingerless gloves to keep the joints warm and prevent them from stiffening. When you come in from the cold, put your fingers in a hot water bath for 5 minutes. At night, try smearing the joints with ‘Joint-ace’ (glucosamine and chondroitin gel) or an anti-inflammatory gel, and wrap them in Clingfilm or latex gloves, so the gel can be absorbed.   As long as you don’t have a pacemaker, you could also experiment with using a TENS machine on your hands.
  7. When weeding or planting, don’t stay stooped over for too long – it’s easy to get carried away and lost in a job, then find, when you straighten up, that your back muscles have tightened right up. Remember to straighten, stand upright, bend backwards and swing your hips every few minutes to avoid over-tightening muscles.
  8. When up a ladder, place the ladder to face the job you are doing, to avoid leaning or twisting sideways to reach, so that you don’t over-strain one side of your back. Also try to get high enough that you’re above the area you’re working on rather than reaching up for long periods, so avoiding over-straining the shoulder muscles, which can result in shoulder tendonitis.

Elstead Chiropractic and Therapies, The Green, Elstead, Godalming GU8 6HA.
01252 703633