The warm weather arrived so quickly in Edmonton this year that it threw us for a loop; we saw cargo shorts when the grass was still frozen and winter jackets on hot, sunny days. But one predictable pattern was in the Home & Garden aisle. The second the snow started to melt, eager gardeners were on the hunt for saplings and seeds to plan their harvests. It’s no surprise as to why: gardening is easily one of the most popular (and relaxing) activities around.
As calming as it is, gardening is deceivingly physical. All of that kneeling, lifting, and bending takes a toll on your body. We see it all the time at Whyte Chiro: strained backs, shoulder pain, and sore knees. We can treat the pain but we’d rather you didn’t have to experience it in the first place, and sometimes all it takes is a little planning ahead of time.
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As with any physical activity, you want to make sure you have the right equipment before you get started. You’ll make better use of your time and, even more importantly, you’ll save yourself from muscle and joint pain that can often emerge hours (or even days) after you’ve finished your work in the garden. Also, the type of garden you keep and the amount of time you put into it can cause discomfort in your knees, shoulders, back, and hips, among other areas.
You always want to protect your body from the impact it has with the unforgiving ground. That’s why it’s important to be mindful of the type of shoes you wear or the mattress you take camping. Stats Canada reports that 50% of Canadians work on their gardens or yards up to six times per month, and with that amount of exposure it’s crucial to protect your joints.
Since gardening involves a lot of kneeling, your legs and knees are especially susceptible to aches and pains. Soften the pressure on your knees while gardening by wearing kneepads or using a kneeling pad on the ground. Both options offer a great amount of pain prevention and relief while gardening and they come in a variety of textures and styles. We’ve tried gel-filled, neoprene (rubber), and foam cushion knee pads in the past and while the gel ones are a favourite around here, it really comes down to personal preference.
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Garden stools and kneelers take a lot of pressure off of your back and knees as well. We’ve found that they provide better support for longer gardening jobs than knee pads alone, as many stools and kneelers can have adjustable heights, depending on which part of the yard you’re working on. Stools and kneelers also provide more options for storing your gardening tools. Many are foldable for easy storage and some even come with a tool starter kit for first-time gardeners. Kneelers and stools tend to cost more than kneepads alone, but when you consider the number of hours people generally spend gardening, the extra money can be justified if you’re able to swing it.
Finally, you need a way to move all of those dirt-filled pots to their homes and that can mean a lot of heavy lifting—even more than you realize if you’re moving them one-by-one. Wheelbarrows and lifter trolleys take a tremendous amount of pressure off of your back, arms, and legs. Both come in a variety of styles and load capacities but they can be fairly expensive. Another option is lifting straps, which you’ve likely seen professional movers use. They help you lift from your knees, which takes pressure off of your back, and they’re usually cheaper (and less bulky) than wheelbarrows or trolleys.
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Of course, we’re talking about prevention here. Sometimes, pain and injury just happen. And when they do, we want to make sure you can go back to doing what you love as soon as possible. If you’re experiencing any type of pain from gardening in your knees, back, or anywhere on your body, please don’t hesitate to fill out our contact form or give us a call at (780) 466-7111. We have Chiropractic and Physical Therapy solutions for all types of soreness or stiffness and we look forward to getting you back in the garden again!
So tell us: What are you planting this year?