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Pain free Gardeing

8 tips to avoid growing pains in the garden

Gardening has to be one of the quintessential British pastimes. And while the heat and dryness here make it quite different from the “green and pleasant land” in the UK it is certainly easier to spend time outside.

But rolling lawns and terrace pots require physical work. Those gorgeous terracotta pots weigh a tonne when empty! Put soil and a plant in them and you can feel like you need a forklift to shift them. Digging in hard, dry soil, bending to get those weeds . . . all of these can be a tough physical challenge. And there’s always one patient who staggers through my door, clutching their back because they tried to move a plant or spent all day weeding. Knees aching from kneeling while planting . . . . And people call gardening relaxing!

So as the cooler weather arrives and it seems more appealing to be out in the sun rather than hiding in the shade I thought I would try and reduce the people staggering through my door with plant related injuries.

So here are my 8 top tips for pain free gardening:

  1. drink water – if you get dehydrated your muscles get tired and this can lead to injury.
  2. dress the part – if its cool cos you started early wear a jumper. Cold muscles injure more easily.
  3. stretch – ok so you’re not in the gym but you are working hard. Stretch a little before you start.
  4. take a break – it’s easy to get caught up but try and stop and stretch and have some water every 30 minutes or so. 5 minutes now could save you an hour with me!
  5. lets NOT twist again – try and work directly in front of you and change your position to reach the next area rather that twist to cover more ground from one spot.
  6. Bend from the knees to lift – but you knew that right?
  7. Good tools – long handles so you don’t have to bend, wheelbarrows so you aren’t carrying heavy things . . . Good tools are probably cheaper than fixing your back.
  8. cheap, tatty cushion – to save your knees when you kneel

If you have the option raised beds are better for your back and can even allow for seated gardening! If that isn’t feasible you can always use a table or work bench to work on rather than bending and kneeling. Especially when using small pots for seedlings.

And I love this EarthEasy blog post that gives practical tips for gardening regardless of your physical mobility.

And if you do start to feel and ache, get inside and use my good old favourite – a pack of frozen peas wrapped in a damp tea towel (to prevent ice burns on sore skin!). Apply for 10 minutes every half an hour. But if it doesn’t ease off in 48 hours, you need some professional help.

What are your tips for comfortable and easy gardening? Any special tools or products that made your life easier?

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