Top tips to prevent and relieve those gardening aches and pains.
Having more time at home during lockdown ignited a horticulture habit for lots of people. You might have spent more time tending to your lawn, possibly have been growing a variety of flowers for the visual delight or for arrangements, perhaps you have established a ‘wildlife’ garden, or did you start growing food for your family?
There is no doubt that gardening is great exercise, eating fresh food with virtually zero miles is commendable and tasty, and flowers can brighten the dullest of days and give our hearts a hug, however, the act of planting seeds, tilling, and weeding is not great for our hands and the strange positions we contort ourselves into whilst gardening can cause aches and pains in muscles we did not know we had!
There can be many repetitive tasks involved with gardening, especially if you have a large plot or allotment. These motions, especially those we carry out infrequently, can aggravate existing conditions or cause new ones!
Overdoing it in the garden might cause a flare-up or bring about:
- Carpal tunnel
- Knee conditions
- Hip conditions
- Lower back strains
- Shoulder strains
- Sore calves
- General aches and pains
- Sore hands
- Chapped hands
It’s important to remember that the secret to a healthy garden is a healthy gardener!
So, what can you do to keep yourself healthy?
Firstly, pace yourself. Don’t just head straight in for hours on end and subsequently end up with aches and pains that could have been prevented.
It is recommended that you start your gardening with something gentle such as raking or watering and then STRETCH!
Stretching is especially important if you are not usually active or have not gardened for a while. Stretches should be done slowly without bouncing. Your muscles will be warm after the raking/watering and stretching is best done on warm muscles.
You should not force a stretch and should aim to hold each stretch for 30 seconds for maximum benefit.
The following stretches might help with gardening aches and pains and are ideally carried out before and after your gardening session and any time you take a break..
- Offset the forward bending by arching your back backwards.
- Do some side-to-side stretches.
- Try some body twists.
- Stretch your quads by holding onto a chair or similar, grabbing one ankle and pulling this gently towards your buttocks.
- Stretch your calves by leaning against a wall, putting one leg behind the other, bend the front leg at the knee and, with the back leg, push your heel into the ground.
- Extend your arm and bend your hand downward at the wrist. With the other hand gently press your hand back toward the body.Then bend your hand upward at the wrist and again gently press fingers back toward the body.
- Holding your hand up, slowly bend your fingers down, one joint at a time. Slowly bring fingers back up and stretch the fingers outward as far as comfortable.
- Try wrist rotations.
There is lots of information on stretching and gardening specific stretches on the internet. Somewhere like the NHS Website is a great place to start. However, as usual, if you have any concerns regarding any ailments, please seek medical advice.
Remember to take frequent breaks – a break is a great time to do some stretching and also to reach for the water bottle.
It is important that you stay hydrated, especially when exercising. Water, sugar free drinks, tea and coffee all count towards you 6-8 glasses a day.
Keep your gardening tools maintained and ensure they are comfortable to hold and the right size for you as this ensures you do not have to grip handles that are the wrong size for your hands and are not bending over excessively if your spade or fork is too short.
Another thing to remember when gardening is to wear protective gloves! Gloves are a gardener’s friend. Gloves can save you from dry skin, calluses, cuts and being attacked by nettles or brambles! They will also protect your nails from snagging or excessive dirt.
As well as stretching, some people find a nice long soak after gardening can be soothing on their aches and pains.
Your hands and forearms will also appreciate self-massage with a moistening or pain-relieving cream or lotion. Regular gardeners might even like to treat themselves to an indulgent hand cream specifically for gardeners to ensure the hands stay as soft and cared for as possible.
If you have overdone it in the garden then why not book a Massage or Complementary session to help address those aches and pains and help prevent repetitive strain; a premium, medical style manicure will help keep your nails and cuticles in tip-top condition and will moisturise dry hands. For further luxury and self-care, nourishing, moisture-replenishing collagen gloves are available as an add-on to any treatment.