Believe it or not, spring is approaching rapidly. Hopefully, this means the sun will be coming out a little more, and for those keen gardeners, you will be very busy with your plants. As you know, gardening exerts all sorts of stresses and strains on your body. You may not realise they are happening until an injury or some discomfort decides to bother you as pests do to your plants and flowers. Problems with wrists, backs, elbows, shoulders, knees, and hips are all too common.
Before you plan your activities, make sure you stretch your wrists, elbows, shoulders, and back properly. It is time-consuming, but there is no quick method. However, the benefits include a fabulous-looking garden!
If you know that you are going to be kneeling for long periods of time, perhaps take some pressure off your knees a little and use a cushion, so you are more comfortable whilst carrying out your hobby.
Here are a quick few stretches for certain areas to help you enjoy your hobbies in comfort:
Preventing injury: wrists and fingers
Keeping your elbows bent at 90 degrees and tucked into your torso, face your palms to the floor and slowly point your fingers up to the ceiling/sky. Hold the stretch for 5 seconds, and then point your fingers to the floor and again hold the stretch for 5 seconds. This will stretch the flexor and extensor compartment of your wrist and forearm. For additional pressure, you could use your other hand to increase the stretch. Repeat this stretch 7 – 10 times. Remember, no pain should occur during these exercises. Only a stretch sensation should be felt: if there is a pain, then stop completely or get in touch with us.
You can also make circles with your wrists clockwise and anti-clockwise just to warm them up before activity. Simple motions and stretches can go a long way.
For your fingers, spread them apart and hold for 3 seconds. Then slowly bring your fingers together and form a fist. Then re-open. Again, repeat this 7 – 10 times before and after your session of gardening.
Preventing injury: shoulders
Nice big shoulder circles are great to get the blood flow to the joint and slowly work all the tissues around the shoulder joint and back muscles. Nice slow motions are fantastic so all the muscle groups around the shoulder can be effectively activated.
Another good stretch for the back of the shoulder is to bring your right arm across your body, keeping the elbow straight, and using your other arm to hold the elbow of the right arm and further the stretch. Hold for at least 7 – 10 seconds and slowly release. Repeat 10 times and try to increase the stretch a little on each repetition. A stretch sensation should occur on the back of the shoulder, however, if you notice similar sensations near the shoulder blade region as well, this could be suggestive of tight muscles around your shoulder blade (scapula bone).
Preventing injury: back and hips
Joe has written instructions on how to perform a hip flexor stretch.
For the back, knee hugs are a good start. Lying on your back, bend your knees to 90 degrees and slowly bring them to your chest. Hold this for 10 seconds and repeat at least 10 times. (As an alternative, you can bring up one knee at a time and alternate instead.) This will help stretch your lumbar spine muscles and will help your flexibility and decrease the risk of an injury. This is important as constant bending forwards can lead to injuries in your back and could lead to a spasm if muscles are not stretched properly/effectively.
Preventing injury: knees
Knees are often injured because of repetitive strain, typically bending and kneeling, or falling off balance whilst carrying out a task in your garden/allotment. Normally, it can be strain-related, which can suggest more muscle/ligamentous injury rather than a bone/joint injury though this does depend on the nature of the injury.
A nice stretch would be directed towards the front of your thigh, the quadriceps muscles group. Gently aiming to touch your heels to your buttocks is a great way to work the muscle group and the quadriceps tendon (your knee/patella tendon over and beyond your knee). Hold this stretch for 10 seconds and repeat 5 times.
If this region feels weak, then it is nice to get a stretchy therapy band normally red or green ones are the best to start off with. Sit down on the chair, tie the band to the chair leg closest to your leg and then place your shin in the loop, and straighten your knees. Make sure this motion is slow for maximum effect. If you get a warm feeling in your knee and a slight burn sensation inside the muscle, do not worry. This is normal and means you are on the right path. Start off with 10 reps per day. Should you need any more advice, contact Joe Reemer, our rehabilitation specialist for knee injuries.
For more information about Injuries and injury prevention
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