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Gardening injuries and how to avoid them

Spring has arrived and that means we’re getting out in the garden again. Mowing the lawn, pruning trees and digging up the veggie patch can put extra strain on our joints, ligaments and muscles.

Common gardening injuries we see at the clinic include:

1. Acute low back injuries Bending, twisting and loading movements such as starting the lawn mower, digging holes and carrying/moving heavy pots can all place strain on the joints, muscles and ligaments of the lower back

2. Neck and shoulder injuries

Overhead activities such as pruning high branches can irritate or aggravate neck and shoulder problems. 

3. Forearm and elbow overuse injuries 

Using pruning shears can lead to overuse strain injuries to the muscles and tendons of the forearm and elbow. Lifting heavy wheelbarrows can also place strain through the wrists, shoulders and low back.

4. Knee pain

Kneeling for long periods of time weeding or planting can place a lot of pressure through the knees and cause pain/discomfort in the joints.

5. Sprained ankle

Walking on uneven ground in the garden can often result in twisting your ankle.

Simple solutions to prevent gardening injuries 

1. Warm up well

Going for a light walk and performing general mobility stretching of the lower back, hamstrings, quadriceps, shoulders and neck will all help you prepare for the physical nature of gardening and prevent injury

2. Watch your posture

Aim to perform most gardening activities at eye level to decrease the strain on your neck and shoulders. When lifting, make sure your bend your knees and keep your back straight to avoid staring the lower back. 

3. Comfortable footwear and clothing

Make sure you are dressed appropriately, especially wearing supportive and protective footwear. Don’t forget a broad brimmed hat, gardening gloves to protect your hands and sunscreen to protect against sunburn.

4. Take breaks

Taking regular breaks ensures you don’t over do it and don’t remain in the one posture for a prolonged period of time.

5. Stay hydrated

Like with any activity is important to avoid dehydration and keep your fluids up. Keeping a drink bottle close by will be a good reminder to take regular drink breaks.

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