Gardening is something many people enjoy. A gentle way to enjoy the outdoors, fresh air and wafting scents of delightful plants, whilst creating something unique, colourful and delightful.
However, gardening can takes its toll on muscles, the skins and our hands and arms in particular. So, bearing this in mind, how can you avoid aches and pains after gardening?
- Warm up! – it may sound a bit odd but, if you know your afternoon’s gardening is going to be full of strenuous exercise, then it pays to stretch and warm up the muscles you plan on using. For example, heavy digging can take a toll on the lower back, so perform a few stretches before plunging in and picking up the spade or fork.
- Lift well – it is common to lift a variety of things when gardening, and some are heavy whilst others can be awkwardly shaped. The old adage of knees bent, back straight will hold true in this circumstance but, if the object is too heavy, ask for help!
Repetitive strain ‘aches and pains’
More often than not, our muscles ache, needing a good massage after a day of gardening, through repetitive straining. This is when the same group of muscles perform the same thing over and over again.
It is important when gardening that you vary the activity that you are doing. Take a look at some of the most common repetitive strains and how to avoid them…
- Hands – we use our hands as our main tools in many cases thus, chopping and snipping at plants places our hand in one repetitive pattern. This needs to be broken every now and then which can be done by stretching the hand, splaying the fingers. Rotating the wrist can also help as can stretching the wrist so that the fingers are reaching for the sky.
Why not take a look at what massage can do for you?
The National Trust property at Dunham Massey are opening the Rose Garden on Wednesday evenings in June – from the 3rd to the 24th inclusive – from 5.30 to 8pm. As well walking among the fragrant roses and being inspired for your own garden, you can also indulge in a hand and arm massage. Discover the power of massage for not only alleviating aches and pains, stiffness and so on in the wrist joint and fingers, but also discover how massage could also contribute to making your hands and arms stronger for all those hours you spend pottering in the garden.
- Shoulders – the shoulders can work very hard when we are ‘pottering’ in the gardening, especially during the pruning and cutting back season. In many cases, shrubs and tree branches can be overhanging, causing us to stretch up over and above our heads but, at the same time, balancing the weight of cutting equipment and applying pressure to cut the branch. The trick with repetitive strains is to break the pattern thus, after a few clips, lower the cutting tool, step back and stretch your arms open wide, gently rolling the shoulders as you do. Start with exercise too, to warm up.
- Back – the lower back can also be incredibly sore after gardening and lifting right and so on is imperative, as we addressed earlier. But, being bent at an angle, digging the ground, lifting and twisting all takes its toll so, like you would with your shoulders, break the pattern every now and then. Stand straight and stretch, reaching up to the sky. Gently twist from side to side too, if you feel a not forming.
- Knees – many gardeners kneel as they tend their plants and this places strain on the knee joints. Move positions every now and then, standing with your legs straight and pull your knees backwards.
Gardener after care
A hard day in the garden is very rewarding, especially when you look around and see all the hard work you have done, and the very obvious results. From beautifully manicured hedges and shrubs, to a freshly cut lawn and a new border of flowers, all bright and deliciously colourful.
With the delicate scent of plants and shrubs engulfing you, it can be easy to sit a little too long in one position and this causes the important joints and muscles to stiffen up. Gentle heat to some of these areas is a great way of releasing any tension in them so that hopefully, the next day you are striding around your garden, rather than hobbling.