Gardeners Watch Out!

Now the clocks have gone forward, the birds busy nesting, spring is definitely in the air. What a relief after the wettest winter on record!

With the warmer spell and the plants waking up, longer evenings and warmer weather, the garden will be shouting for your attention and danger may lurk for the careless.

Safe Gardening Tips

Spring Gardening approaches and an increase in physical activity after keeping indoors on a dark winter’s night is bound to have potential risks attached. It really isn’t fair to ask your body to cope with several hours of bending and digging etc, if you’ve spent the winter months in relative inactivity. We need to ease ourself back into the increased work load to avoid potential injury.
 
Don’t decide to tackle the whole garden at once, take an hour or so of the lighter evenings 2-3 times a week and start chipping away at the jobs that are waiting. This will have the two fold benefit of waking your body up to the increased activity and getting the job into more manageable proportions.
 
Prolonged periods of unfamiliar and repetitive activities are bound to put strain on local parts of your body. Digging for example is a real challenge to the low back as we bend to lift the soil to turn it. All bending if prolonged, can lead to pressure on our low back discs and ligaments with the potential for strains, and then pains.
 
The very British attitude of pushing on till it’s done, comes with a price. “I’m not stopping till I’ve finished weeding this whole flower bed”, “I’m going to finish digging this whole patch before stopping”.  Better to vary activities as much as possible. Weed some of the vegetable patch, then rest a little, you can always get back to it tomorrow. If you do have more time, come back and perhaps mow the lawn or some other more upright activity.
 
Pacing yourself is the key to avoiding disaster.  It really is important to listen to your body and STOP when you are becoming tired or are feeling pain.
 
Some Important Do’s and Don’ts
 
Don’t charge in and spend all day in the garden at the beginning of the gardening season.
Do pace yourself and tackle big jobs in smaller pieces, take regular breaks. Be realistic, if necessary get help to “break the back” of bigger start of season jobs like the digging over, or first hedge/lawn cut etc.
 
Don’t work on through pain or when your feeling tired.
Do take regular breaks, and vary activities.
 
Don’t bend forward for too long at a time.
Do stretch after bending forward, stand up straight, hands on hips and slowly and gently rotate your hips as an exercise to counteract the forwards movement. Just like using a hula-hoop.

Don’t bend forward more than you have to.
Do buy long handled garden tools where possible, or kneel to weed etc. A foam kneeling pad makes for more comfortable kneeling.

Don’t let your body get dehydrated.  Muscles and ligaments are much more likely to be injured when low on fluids.
Do take regular drinks during physical exercise, which create a great excuse for a little break.
 
Don’t spend too long on the some posture or activity, i.e. pruning all your shrubs in one day. You wouldn’t spend hours on the same machine at the gym.
Do vary activities throughout the day to avoid repetitive strain type injuries.
 
Don’t heave huge bags of compost around.
Do buy smaller bags, use a wheel barrow or “decant” bulk material from bags into a bucket or wheelbarrow to carry more easily.
 
Strains and sprain from overdoing it in the garden, will often reveal themselves the next morning once the inflammation has had a chance to build up. Back, neck or other joint injuries can be very stiff and painful in the first 24 hours or so after unaccustomed use, and give the impression that something terrible has happened, don’t panic. Use your normal pain relief medication from the chemist, rest as much as you need to, but, as a general rule with simple back and neck pain gentle activity and movements will actually reduce your recovery time.
 
Any pain pattern not beginning to settle down within 3-5 days may need further investigation and treatment. Our osteopaths are always happy to speak on the phone with any patient wanting to talk over a health problem, gardening related or otherwise.  Don’t hesitate to call 01208 872867.

Osteopathy for work

The health and safety executive estimate that in 2013/14 there were 526,000 cases of work related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) – about 42% of all work related illnesses

MSDs are the second biggest cause of absence from work, effecting over 1m people at a cost to the economy (estimated in 2007) of £7bn.

If you are self-employed, taking time off work with musculoskeletal problem can have a devastating effect on you and your family’s financial security, so getting back to work as quickly as possible is essential. That can seem impossible when you’re in pain and unable to complete your usual daily activities, but movement really helps.

The Work Foundation recommend that you work with your employers and healthcare professionals if effected by MSDs to find ways of returning to work as soon as possible using a combination of treatment, lifestyle changes and adjustment to working conditions. They also suggest that early intervention is key to recovery, hastening your return to a normal, healthy lifestyle and limiting the negative psychological effects of an extended period of sick leave. This can be by using osteopathy.

How our osteopaths can help;

• Fast access – our osteopaths are usually able to see you within a couple of days of seeking an appointment. As osteopaths are primary healthcare professionals you don’t need to be referred by a GP unless you are seeking NHS funded treatment or your health insurance provider insists that you see a GP first.

• Treatment and advice – once they have assessed your condition an osteopath will usually begin treatment straight away. They can also provide advice on how to avoid making the condition worse or re-injuring yourself.

• Inexpensive treatment – Many MSDs can be treated by osteopaths over a few visits. Treatment costs just £38 for the first appointment and then £35 for subsequent appointments, which compared to loss of earnings or productivity is a worthwhile investment to help you return to work promptly.

• Fit notes – A fit note provides your employer with advice on what they can do to help an employee return safely to work. This may include adjustments to working conditions, such as reduced hours, a different work station set up, or recommending avoiding activities that may prevent or slow recovery, heavy lifting for example. Osteopaths are able to issue fit notes which will give employers this expert advice.

• Onward referral – With your permission, we are able to share information about your health with other healthcare professionals, such as your GP. If your condition requires the intervention of another expert, we provide a letter of referral detailing the diagnosis and any treatment that we have been able to provide, which may help you more rapidly get the help you need to return to health.

Contact us today for information or to make an appointment.