If you’re planning to do some gardening over the Bank Holiday weekend, here’s a few ideas to keep you limber and on tip-top form!
Most gardening-related problems result from too long spent bent double. Try these ideas instead:
Use long-handled tools, and get them to do the reaching for you.
Try a garden kneeler – either a padded mat, or you can get a variety of seat/kneel combinations, some with handles to help you get up again. You do have to get your kneeler up close to your working area, though – if you kneel and then reach a long way forward, your back won’t thank you.
If you have deep beds, include stepping stones in them so you can get into the area you want to work.
Adapt your garden to be back-friendly: have raised beds put in. Grow your annuals or vegetables in containers raised to a suitable height. Use mulching and ground-cover plants to reduce the need to weed. If you like to grow fruit, use dwarf stock or trellis-training so the fruit is in easy reach at harvest-time.
Gardening with Arthritis
It’s all about planning! Prepare your garden and yourself before you start.
Warm up gently with some stretches before you start gardening, and stay warm with appropriate clothing.
Consider using splints or braces to protect your joints.
Take regular breaks – warm your hands on a nice cuppa!
Order things sensibly in your garden so you don’t have to do too much fetching and carrying – you could have several water butts, for instance, so you always have water near-to-hand.
Use a wheelbarrow or sack-barrow for moving heavy objects.
Use the right tools for the job – a lightweight lawnmower; shears with good grips; a hose that doesn’t require you to hold a trigger.
Above all, don’t give up – gentle exercise like gardening will help you maintain your mobility.
Heaving a bag of compost around your garden is a sure-fire way to strain yourself! Keep pain-free with these tips:
At the garden centre, get a member of staff to lift heavy goods into your car for you. Once you’re home, use a wheelbarrow and share the lifting with someone else, if possible.
The worst thing for backs when lifting weight is to bend and twist at the same time. If you need to lift something heavy, bend down from the knees keeping your back straight, get it as close to you as you can, and lift from the legs, keeping tension in your buttock, tummy and pelvic floor muscles as you go. Avoid turning from the waist, but turn your whole body.
Keep heavy pots and containers on wheeled bases for easy moving.
When digging, use as small a spade as you can, with a long handle which reduces the need for bending. Stainless steel spades tend to be lighter. Try and keep your back straight and use the power of your legs.
After you’ve finished a session in the garden, do some gentle stretches – especially if you’ve been in one position for a long time. Then reward yourself with a nice warm bath, and look forward to the fruits of your labours in the months to come!