Taking care of your body whilst gardening

We love getting to know what activities our clients enjoy getting up to, which is why we include asking about your interests & hobbies on our new client intake form! This helps us understand the activities you are wanting to engage in, and allows us to personalise and tailor your treatment plan to you. This blog will help you take care of your body whilst gardening.

Many of our clients tend to list gardening as one of these activities – and it isn’t hard to know why. Gardening can be such an enjoyable form of physical activity – it lets you get outside, enjoy the sunshine, and be surrounded by green and growing things. This can be such a benefit to both our mental and physical wellbeing.

You may know that Sal’s Mum Helen (or H.O. as she is known) is an avid gardener and a main reason why the Red Brick House is so beautiful. While she lives 300km away up at the beach she does come to Brisbane regularly for fun, physio and to keep an eye on the Barefoot plants. Caitlin Detmers and Helen put together ‘HO and CD’s top tips for taking care of yourself while gardening’. Keep in mind Helen has created many beautiful gardens in her time, including taking a barren beachside block of land and transforming it into a lush subtropical oasis, creating a Toowoomba cottage garden, Sal’s beach house garden, the gardens of the Red Brick House and many more. Her next major project will be Sal’s Fairfield garden after the house is raised (post 2022 floods). If you ever see Helen at the clinic and would like garden tips make sure to ask as she is a wealth of knowledge.

HO on the farm – part of HO garden at the beach – And beach adventures with Ziggy

HO and CD’s Top Tips to take care of yourself while gardening…

  • “Get under a tree between 10 and 3” and using sunscreen and hats: Living in sunny Australia means it is important for us to practice sun safety (slip, slop, slap!) and stay hydrated
  • Try to be aware of your physical capabilities and tailor your gardening: If you are recovering from an injury, or experiencing any aches and pain, it is important to look after that area of your body – this can look different for everybody. When lifting weights- keep the load close you your body and lift with your legs. Adopt a wide stance to help with your stability. If the object is particularly large or awkward, consider asking a mate or two for help.
  • Don’t do too much for too long: we know it’s tempting to keep going but it’s not worth it!
  • Break activities up into smaller segments of time and the type of exertion required: Similar to how you wouldn’t walk into the gym for the first time and expect to be able to do 500 squats, think about gardening in a similar manner. Give yourself rest breaks and pace your activities
  • Set your own pace and don’t follow others pace especially when working with others
  • Drop tools regularly for a walk, stretch, sit, read or cup of tea – whatever suits you: Be aware of your body positions and postures. Avoid prolonged postures (e.g getting out of a crouched position when weeding to have a bit of a stretch)
  • Wear clothing that is comfortable for you – allows movement and doesn’t restrict as you bend, squat, lift etc.
  • Enjoy the activity or leave it to another day entirely if it’s not your cup of tea.
  • And for this gardener living at the beach: Make sure you go and enjoy the beach at least twice a day
HO in her element creating plants 1: propagated at Barefoot and going to Fairfield – 2: saved from a neighbour – 3: clinic plants repot

What equipment and resources have you found most helpful to decrease load and strain on yourself?

In my bundle of tools/equipment that live, and often travel, with me are 3 pieces of equipment as well as 2 resources that are my “go to’s”:

Go-To Tools & Equipment

  • A Basic Hand Truck Trolley
    • They’re bought at any auto parts store. Mine is over 40 years old and still used for moving heavy things around my garden. I don’t lift things. I roll and use the trolley. 
  • Long handled pot hole shovel- A wise gardener in Toowoomba put me on to this year’s ago.
    • Mine is on its second handle and going strong with a shovel head size that means I’m not lifting/digging into large/heavy amounts of soil or materials.
    • A long handle means I’ve got a better chance of keeping a good posture
  • Soft plastic double handled buckets
    • For me no bigger than the 15-litre size. Only filling these halfway with whatever material is being transported means that that I’m not lifting or carrying quantities my body can’t handle.
We made HO do a photo shoot showing us the key tools: long handled shovel and flexible buckets!

‘Resources for taking care of yourself while gardening’

  • Arborist – Lionel

The arrival of this resource was a game changer for me. One skilled person has reduced the number of flare ups I have now to a working level. With skills and equipment, one person in a few hours once or twice a year undertakes and finishes what would take me weeks to do. And so much fun to watch the process.

  • Massage Therapist – Dean

I’m rather lucky to have the benefit of regular Barefoot treatments plus a great local massage therapist. For me an hourly massage session every 3 weeks helps keep my body on track for gardening and life at the beach. 

Gardening incorporates a range of different kinds of activities: mowing, tree/shrub trimming, weeding, mulching, watering plants, landscaping, and so on.  If you would like more personalised advice regarding taking care of your own body whilst gardening and specific gardening activities, book in to see one of our Barefoot physiotherapists by calling 1300 842 850 or online here.

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