Put your garden to bed without putting out your back

In Blog by jericho_reception

Once again the evenings are drawing in and the geese are starting to head for warmer climes. Fall is upon us and while, for many, that means long evenings in front of the fire with a hot chocolate or something stronger, for others, it means that it’s time to put the garden to bed.

There is still plenty to do in the garden at this time of year: lifting plants for winter storage, turning over the flower beds, cutting the lawn for the final time, or just clearing away the last of the beanstalks. It’s also when we here at Jericho Physio start to hear the age-old complaint, “my poor aching back”, after a client has spent a weekend in the yard.

You can avoid an afternoon at the physio clinic by following our top tips below. As much as we would love to see you, we would rather you had a pain-free fall and winter.

  1. Warm up

Maybe it’s time to start thinking of gardening as a sport. We always warm up for strenuous sports, but we never seem to warm our joints and muscles up before doing something equally strenuous in the yard. Gardening can be a lot of hard work and a 5-minute warm-up is a valid injury prevention method.

  1. Take a break

Yes, we know that you have a long list of things to do, but a 5-minute break every hour might just ensure that you get through that list, instead of  spending the afternoon on the couch wondering if you have enough painkillers  to last the weekend.

  1. Change tasks

If you spend a long time doing any one, physically demanding activity you are going to get tired. When you get tired, your muscles work differently. And when your muscles are not working as well as they might, you get injured.

Spend no more than 15 minutes at a time doing any one task. Bending over for long periods of time and repeated lifting can lead to back pain. Juggle your tasks; swap and do something else for a while, then return to your original task. It may seem like the long way around, but you will be able to do more, more efficiently, and with less likelihood of injury.

  1. Rake properly

Raking leaves is something you’ll do more than once this fall if you’re lucky enough to have trees in your yard. It’s also one of the hardest tasks you do in the garden.

As much as we all loathe the sound of leaf blowers, usually, they are easier on your body. If you do rake, avoid the most common mistake: raking across your body and always in the same direction.

Instead, hold the rake closer to your body so that there is less strain on the muscles that stabilize your spine. Move your legs; step back and forth to move the rake in a forward and back motion. Your back will thank you.

  1. Use the right equipment

No, we are not pushing for a sponsorship from Home Depot! It’s important that your equipment is appropriate, not only for the job you’re doing, but also for your size. When you use a tool that is not suited to your task, or one that is too big or small for you, you have to work harder, and in positions that can strain your joints and muscles.

Your garden shovel, for example, should sit between elbow and chest height when the tip is resting on the ground and its blade should be shaped for the task. At the end of the day, what would you rather spend your money on – a shovel that is the right length, weight and shape for you and the job in front of you, or a course of physiotherapy?

Feeling the pain of yard work? Please call our office at 604-228-1474 to arrange an appointment, or use our online request form.