5 gardening tips to prevent injury

Summer is here, the garden is going crazy, and it’s time to get out there and sort it out. Carrying compost or watering cans or pushing heavy barrows around the garden can increase your risk of injury, particularly for older people.

Our physiotherapists can advise you how to avoid these injuries whilst gardening.

We often treat patients with wrist, shoulder and back pain attributed to carrying heavy items and lifting awkward loads. To avoid this, we recommend that you warm up before and after gardening by stretching. We can recommend the type of stretches that would be most appropriate.

For our older patients who are at greater injury risk, we recommend gardening earlier in the day when the weather is cool and bright. This will minimise the risk of evening falls caused by reduced vision.

To help we have some handy tips for you to use when gardening. For more comprehensive information on avoiding injury whilst gardening or undertaking other household activities see one of our physiotherapists.

Tip 1 Bend your knees

When lifting items, remember to bend your knees, not your back. Never twist your body when your back is bent. When lifting, keep your feet apart and one slightly in front of the other. If you are unsure, we can demonstrate these techniques for you.

Tip 2 Don’t overfill

Never overfill your bucket, barrow or watering can. Only carry as much weight as you know you can lift comfortably. If you are unsure, we can help suggest an appropriate weight for you.

Tip 3 Equalise your loads

Distribute the load equally on each side of the body by using two lighter containers rather than one heavy one.

Tip 4 Closeness is the key

Always carry buckets, containers or loads as close to your body as possible. Holding any weight away from your body increases the stress on your upper body and back.

Tip 5 Use your surroundings

Place a watering can on a stool or chair when filling it, so you don’t have to lift it up as far when it’s filled. Place garden pots and containers on a bench to avoid bending to plant them out or work on them.