By Ben Herde – Sports Physiotherapist and avid Gardener
September is a beautiful time of year in Geelong and The Surf Coast. Not only is there the buzz of the football finals, there is also the end of winter and the return of warmer weather which is more inviting for getting outside and enjoying working in the garden. Unfortunately, as a physio I see in an increased incidence in garden related injuries at this time of year.
Here are 6 tips to stay injury free when Spring has sprung.
Keep a level of fitness to be able to do the job at hand
Too often we undertake a DIY job or mammoth garden job when we have not attuned our body for that task. This often happens in Spring as we have not done too much whilst there is poorer growth of the garden or our motivation to work in the cooler weather. Then when Spring comes around we are not ready for it. Our musculoskeletal system, particularly tendons do not respond well to large spikes in load. If you know you have a large project coming up condition your body with physical exercise that uses the same muscle group and keep a good base-line level of fitness.
Do some research into how things should be done
Thorough planning can save a lot of time, effort and disappointment if the project doesn’t go right. It also allows you to map out what equipment is needed and what amount of time you need to budget to it. Additionally, learn the correct way to move when performing an activity. Using a garden tool incorrectly can be cumbersome and lead to awkward positions where muscles and joints are over-loaded, and tendons compressed. A recipe for disaster.
Make sure you have the correct equipment
Having the right safety equipment such as eye goggles, ear-muffs, gloves and sun safety equipment is paramount and not worth risking any other way. Additionally, having the correct tool for the application can make the job so much easier and avoids unnecessary strain on your body saving any potential over-load injuries. Examples of tools making it easier are pole-trimmers for hedging tall hedges as opposed to a hand-held hedge-trimmer.
Warm-up and cool down like you would for sport
Some gentle exercise to generate blood-flow, followed by some dynamic stretches prior to the exercise. This neuromuscular warm-up gets the body ready for what is ahead. Afterwards take some time to do some gentle passive stretches with a longer hold (20-30 seconds).
Space out the jobs in mind and mix-up the tasks involved
Budget your time. Your job doesn’t need to be finished in one day. Allocate the job into smaller more manageable allotments of time. Additionally, when doing a project. Aim to mix up the tasks so you don’t risk overloading one particular body structure.
Plan to maintain
This is relevant to both you and your garden. Enjoy your garden and use it as a means to keep up your physical activity. Your garden will stay manageable, look nicer and you will reap the benefits of being a healthier you!
For further information please feel free to contact the team at Grand Slam Physiotherapy on (03)52772151.