Gardens – should be a joy, not a pain
Spring and summer are such wonderful seasons – times of growth and renewal. The plants and flowers in our gardens burst into life in a whole host of colours, chasing winter away. Spring Crocuses, Daffodils, and Tulips are followed by a range of summer flowers to brighten up our lives. Gardens are a source of such beauty and joy but they can also be a source of much pain.
Statistics compiled by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) tell us that about 300,000 people are seriously enough hurt in their gardens each year to need hospital treatment. Of these, 87,000 are injured while carrying out gardening tasks. As Physiotherapists, we also see an increase in garden related injuries in the spring and summer, particularly affecting the back, shoulders or knees. So what are the risks and how can we avoid them?
The most common accident in the garden is a fall affecting gardeners and visitors alike. Common sense can help prevent these incidents. Flower pots, plant tubs, hoses and other trip hazards can be identified and then made safer with a little thought and planning. Flower pots can be a particular problem resulting in 5,300 people needing hospital treatment after either falling over them or injuring themselves lifting them.
Often pots and tubs are heavier than we think. If you have to lift or move them, make sure you can do so safely. Plan your lift – check there are no obstacles in the way. Face the direction the load is to be carried to avoid unnecessary twisting.
Digging, raking and weeding are all repetitive tasks and as such will repeatedly strain the same part of the body – muscle, tendon or ligament. It is sensible to take breaks or change task regularly to avoid injury. For example, mix weeding with pruning so you can vary between kneeling and standing. Know your limitations and pace yourself to get the job done sensibly. It may be worth investing in a smaller spade to lighten the load each time you have to dig or plan to do tasks over several days rather than working when tired.
Knees can become swollen with prolonged kneeling to weed as the unusual pressure on the Patella Bursa causes it to become irritated and fill with fluid. When weeding or planting try a knee pad, or old cushion, to help protect your knees.
Gardens are to be enjoyed. The famous French painter, Claude Monet, summed it up well saying “My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece”. We hope that you will enjoy your garden and avoid any painful injuries while there.