Garden Fit

Well it’s just about there folks, better late than never! After what’s seems like a very prolonged winter the temperature is rising, slowly and the sun is shining, sometimes. So, It’s gardening time!

We just wanted to discuss a range of typical gardening tasks and give you a bit of advice to try and prevent some of the most common gardening related ailments.

The first key thing is don’t do too much of anything at once. It is so tempting on the first sunny, dry, calm day to get stuck into everything that you have been longingly and patiently waiting to do whilst the rain, sleet, and hail has been hammering down outside. If you are working for a good bit of time make sure you vary the task and take plenty of breaks. Think of gardening as an exercise and take rest breaks and maybe stretch in-between tasks doing some postural reversal movements. If you have been bending stretch back, if you have been standing sit down.

Digging

If the ground is too hard try and loosen it with a fork first or a ground breaker spade (see below). The soil just now is very wet and therefore very heavy. Try and move small amounts at a time rather than as much as possible. A few more digs won’t hurt you but a massive lump of soil might! Use your legs to push the spade and try and bend over as little as possible. Try to avoid twisting if putting the soil to the side.

Painting the fence

They can look a bit tatty after a long winter. Try and paint in front of you as much as possible so you don’t have to reach too far. Move closer to where you are painting as much as you can. For those low bits, kneel down, on one knee or two knees. Use kneeling pads or mats especially if you are kneeling on a hard surface or have sore knees anyway. For the high areas try not to overreach and use a small ladder or stool to stand on (make sure it is safe and steady and don’t overreach). Spray paint is also a great way to make the fence painting task much easier.

Weeding

Most of us don’t spend much time kneeling on the ground bending over so our bodies are not used to this position. It is therefore so important to take regular breaks (every 10-15 mins) to straighten our backs and our knees. Again the use of a kneeling pads, or low gardening stool can be a great help.

Digging up roots

You wouldn’t believe the number of folk we see who have hurt their backs and shoulders trying pull up stumps or plants. Try and break the roots as much as possible, remember the root system is inevitably much bigger and stronger than you think! Loosen as much as you can and continue to cut the roots that you gain access too as the stump begins to move more. Don’t force it or it will win! Take your time and keep loosening until the ball can be removed without requiring maximum, blood pressure rising force!

Planting

Ah! The nice bit of gardening. If you are planting seeds use a table if possible so you bend over as little as possible. There are so many gardening tasks that require you to bend over, including planting seedlings and planting in the ground. This standing posture could be used as a break/ change in position from weeding. Maximising time but minimising risk.

Pots

Pots can be very heavy especially when dealing with large plants or when the soil is wet. Try putting them on a pot mover to reduce the amount of heavy lifting you need to do.

Painting furniture

If like me you have found the joy of outdoor wooden furniture paint to reinvigorate faded grubby looking outdoor wooden furniture you will be doing this. As with all painting tasks vary your position, takes breaks regularly and don’t necessarily do all the tasks at once!

Mowing the lawn

The first cut is the worst cut! I would say! It will be too long and probably a bit damp! Raise the blades as high as possible so that you that don’t feel like you are driving into s snow drift! Don’t necessarily wait for the grass bucket to be full before you empty it as it will be heavier. If you have a flymo still just push forwards and backwards. A side to side or arc movements can be much harder on our bodies.

Raking

If it’s getting the moss out, collecting the trimmings or levelling the soil, raking tends to be one of those bending over activities that it’s hard to stand up straight from if you do it too long! Make sure you take regular short breaks and stand up straight. Only make small piles to lift. Bring the garden refuse bin to you to reduce the labour. Try and minimise the amount of bending and twisting and alternate with other tasks. Remember, you can also get lighter tools and longer handles to make many tasks a little easier.

Cutting branches/ pruning

Firstly make sure you have got the right tools and that they are sharp. Most people aren’t used to squeezing hard to cut or trim and this uses your forearm muscles a lot. As always don’t try and do too much at one time, take a break so the muscles can recover. If you are pruning/ cutting high branches make sure you use extending equipment or ladders so that you don’t have to overreach. Anything above your head often puts our necks and shoulders into positions that they are just not used to so take great care and if possible work mainly below head height.

Gloves

Many tasks in the garden are dealing with sharp objects (wood, metal, thorns), chemicals and other

materials and substances that our hands don’t like. Make sure you wear appropriate gloves for the task.

All of these tools and equipment are available from our good friends at Torwood Garden Centre. You can also get a coffee and cake in Blossoms Bistro taking a break from all the shopping!

www.torwoodgardencentre.co.uk

You’ve been warned and hopefully you are now sitting, looking at a beautifully manicured lawn, flower laden beds sitting on a vibrant coloured chair with a smug satisfied grin on your face and a tea, coffee, water, gin, wine or beer in your hand.

If not! You know who to call! Us if you’re sore, or a gardener if you can’t be bothered doing it all yourself!

As always the stronger, fitter and more mobile you are before you do tasks like gardening the better you will be.

Next year maybe think about doing one of our classes through the winter to get you Gardening Fit.

Work Fit, Sport Fit, Life Fit.

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