Gardening Safely

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I love spring.  Bec and I spent four years travelling the globe and we dearly looked forward to coming out of the dark winter and experiencing the full force of a northern hemisphere spring.  We loved the daffodils and the new shoots on the trees and the frisky lambs in the fields.  Undeniably, there is something magical about this time of year.  

However, unfortunately I also tend to see a big jump in people injuring themselves during this time of year also.  When I first moved to the mountain I assumed that people up here worked in the garden the same as everywhere else in the world.  I couldn’t understand how someone would have such a massive flare up of their shoulder or back pain from doing “just a bit of gardening” on the weekend.  It wasn’t until I delved deeper and asked some further questions that I realised “just a bit gardening” on Tamborine Mountain meant building a rock retaining wall, or moving 3 cubic metres of red soil, or mulching the entire western slope  on a one acre block. 

Man, you gardeners sure do know how to make your gardens beautiful up here.  Unfortunately, a lot of you also end up injuring yourselves in the process.  However, maybe there is a way to do things that wouldn’t result in so many trips to Physique.  There are a few simple things that I always ask my patients to do if they are spending some time in the garden.

Firstly, make sure you do a few stretches before hitting the garden bed.  We seem to be all happy enough to warm up before going for a 20 minute walk or a run, but we don’t do it before spending 8 hours working in the yard.  Taking the 5 minutes to do some gentle stretches for the leg muscles and spinal joints might save a world of hurt over the next few days.

Secondly, take regular breaks.  Listen to your body.  Take a rest every 40 to 60 minutes, rehydrate well and allow your body to recuperate before staging your next assault on those pesky weeds. 

Finally, the best bit of advice I can offer is to make sure you have a number of different jobs organised for any one session in the garden.  Make sure you rotate regularly through these jobs so that your body is not getting overworked in one particular area.  For example, you might have to get the rose garden weeded, the vege patch turned over and the Agapantha heads clipped.  Get them all set up at the start of the session and spend only 20-30 minutes doing each activity before rotating onto the next one.  Keep on rotating through the activities until all the jobs are done.  This will ensure that your body will not be as subject to the repetitive stress injuries that I so often treat.

Get out in the garden and enjoy our Springtime on the Mountain; it is a very special time of year in a very special place.  But remember, do please take it easy, look after yourselves and try to get through injury free.