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Back care in the garden and on the allotment...

Summer is definitely here and those of us who enjoy getting out gardening have been working hard for months. Whether you are a flower fancier or a vegetable lover, we dig, we bend, we lift, we twist...

Actually, much of what we do gardening can be quite a good work out. It is good for our flexibility, and our fitness. Walking backwards and forwards to the shed or greenhouse can actually go quite some way to our 10,000 steps a day.

However, problems can arise and what we see most commonly in the clinic are issues that arise from people doing repetitive movements, or quite simply trying to do too much.

If you have a pre-existing condition, be it back, hip, neck or knee, it is advisable to talk to your Osteopath, Sports Therapist or Physiotherapist about any modifications they would suggest to the way that you do things - it's really not that different to going to the gym!

Here are a few tips to help you stay fit in the garden and keep you doing what you love:

1. Warm up. Don't go straight for the heavy stuff and start lifting and shifting when you're cold. If it's really chilly out, wrap up then remove a layer when you are warm.

2. Don't keep doing the same thing over and over. There is always a multitude of jobs to be done so vary what you are doing. Don't weed for an hour, break it into 15 minute 'chunks' and do something else in between.

3. Have a tea break. If you've been bending or lifting, have a cuppa - and a sit down, just for a few minutes to allow your body to find it's balance before you do a little more.

4. Keep hydrated. It's easy to work for hours in the garden or in your allotment and not realise how much you've been sweating. Always have a bottle of water with you. This is especially important on a hot day.

5. Don't try and lift that paving slab by yourself. Rope someone else in. Get them to help and share the load. If you do need to lift something, think about how you are going to do it and suck in your tummy muscles as you lift.

6. Bend your knees not your back. This applies to weeding or lifting. Your legs should be doing the work here for you. Use a kneeler for weeding and if you need to lift a wheelbarrow, bend your knees and keep your back solid and straight.

7. Ditch the flymo. The rotational torsion that these innocent little mowers exert on our backs can cause trouble for those with existing disc injuries and those without.

8. If it hurts, stop. This advice is not just for gardeners. If you feel something go 'ping', then stop what you're doing. Ploughing on can make it much worse.

9. Cool down, have a stretch of your back and your hamstrings. Have a soak in the bath when you get home.

Follow our advice and you'll live to dig another day!

If you sustain an injury and feel more than just the aches and pains of a good day's work when you've been gardening, then we are here to help you. We can offer treatment, advice and exercises to keep you fit and well. Call us now to book a free 15 minute consultation with any of our team.

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