Don’t sacrifice your back for the love of gardening

BC Physiotherapists share 4 tips to keep BC gardeners pain and injury free

It seems that gardening has become a provincial pastime.  Whether on a patio or a rooftop, roadside or community plot, vegetable, herb or flower, gardens are cropping up everywhere, and with them gardeners. And, while gardening may not look like a hardcore sport where injuries abound, a day mulching a vegetable patch, preparing a lawn for seed, or doing the annual Spring cleanup can lead to strained shoulders or sore backs and knees.

“If you like to garden but want to avoid common gardening injuries and sore muscles, it’s best to start and finish your day in the garden with a gentle warm up and some stretching,” says Rebecca Tunnacliffe, CEO of the Physiotherapy Association of BC. “By following our Phsyio-4 tips you can minimize injury, alleviate pain and get the most enjoyment out of your day in the garden.”

Physiotherapists have extensive knowledge and experience and can design a safe and effective program to keep gardeners pain and injury free and moving for life. Here is their Physio-4 for gardening:

1. Begin with a warm up. Start with light tasks such as easy raking or a walk to warm up your muscles. Follow this by stretching your back, legs, neck, hands and fingers to help prevent strain or injury. Your physiotherapist will prescribe the best stretches for gardening specific needs.

2. Be aware of your posture and body mechanics. When sweeping or raking, move your feet instead of twisting your trunk or over-reaching with your arms. When lifting heavy bags or pots, use your legs, keep your back straight, and hold objects close to your body to prevent unnecessary strain on your back.

3. Be ergonomically correct. Stay close to the ground to trowel, plant and weed. Wear kneepads to avoid putting too much pressure on your knees. Ensure your tools are sharp when pruning or sawing to minimize your workload and select tools with long handles to avoid reaching.

4. Pace Yourself. Take breaks and do some gentle stretching to keep limber. Try switching up tasks to use different muscles and avoid one group being overworked. Repetitive actions that use a specific muscle or muscle group can cause pain or injury

The Physiotherapy Association of BC created the Physio-4 to share the expertise of its members with fellow British Columbians. “Each month on our website, movingforlife.ca, we provide 4 tips for a specific activity or health issue relating to that month to help keep British Columbians moving for life,” says Tunnacliffe.  “We want British Columbians to know that if they are injured or in pain, a physiotherapist can help. After all, we are the healthcare professionals physicians recommend most,” she states. The Physio-4 Tips for gardening provides suggestions to keep gardeners pain and injury free.

BC physiotherapists are the most physically active healthcare professionals in Canada and the ones physicians recommend most. To learn more about how physiotherapists keep British Columbians moving for life, visit movingforlife.ca.