I’ve recently been starting to prune back fruit trees, roses and anything else around that I find that needs some TLC back home… usually after much use of google and gardening australia “how to” videos to try and make sure I'm not going to kill anything…
Gardening entails doing a lot of things I wouldn’t say are accustomed activities for me - carrying tree branches to the fire doesn’t tend to be a part of my daily activity in Melbourne.
Gardening is wonderful exercise and it’s fantastic to get out in the fresh air. I just encourage my patients to remember that gardening is just that, exercise! You don’t go into the gym lifting 50 kg weights for an hour in your first session after a 1 year break, you build up your strength slowly. Gardening is the same - get in, take it easy and enjoy your time in the garden and slowly build up the amount of work you’re doing as your body gets used to it.
If it hurts or you need help figuring out how best to do certain activities come in and ask us, we’ve got a great team here who can try and help you find a solution to keep you enjoying your garden.
In the meantime, I thought I'd share some tips that I've found have worked well for me this winter gardening period!
Number 1. Avoid big gardening sessions when you’re not used to them:
Break your sessions up over a few weeks or at least a few days if possible.
Have a break and change of pace regularly - i.e. try not to stay in the same position or doing repetitive motions for too long - Moving from say 30 minutes of weeding to 30 minutes of pruning at shoulder height and then back to weeding or onto the next job might be a good guide if your comfortable doing that activity across this time frame. *
*I say this because even as an osteo it was a slight ordeal standing up after spending an hour bending forward in the garden.
Number 2. Tools
Pick the right tool for the job - E.g a shovel the right height for you - instead of something too long meaning you have to wield extra weight while digging or something too short meaning more repetitive bending. Tools that are too blunt or not up to the job of cutting through certain materials also fall into this category.
There are some great ergonomic options around where they’re needed. Secateurs that use a ratcheting motion instead of depending on your grip strength can be handy for people with hand or wrist injuries or arthritis.
Think of ways you can make your own life easier - pruning and putting your clippings straight into your wheelbarrow or green bin instead of dropping them on the ground and needing to pick them all up or filling up a heavy container that you can’t lift when it’s full.
Number 3. If it hurts - stop.
Remember pain doesn’t always = injury, it’s our body warning or communicating with us that if we keep going we may end up injuring ourselves. Listening to your body by staying comfortable while you garden is one of the best ways to enjoy your time outdoors.
If it’s too heavy be patient and get help! A really common reason we see people after gardening is that they either they did a 6 hour gardening session in one go after doing none all year (maybe too repetitive might ditch this bit) or that they didn’t want to wait for someone to help them and lifted something they were generally aware that they shouldn’t have… A thankyou present costs a lot less than medical treatments over a few weeks.
There are some great tips on the Gardening Australia website in terms of preventing injury and options for choosing the right tools:
Written By Dr. Amelia Caunt (Osteopath)