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Gardening Time = Aching Time

photo of seeds plants growing

So you look out into the garden and you spot a bit of grass amongst the weeds and realise against all your gritted teeth that it is spring and time for getting back out there.

Well, you know and I do, that gardening is a back breaking and dirty past time, but one which has many great rewards. However, whilst you are in the early stages of seeing the fruits of your labour be prepared for some aching times.

photo of man diggingDigging for all its goodness can deliver a repetitive strain on the shoulder causing increasing muscle soreness along the biceps and pectoralis major along the front. In the back of the shoulder there are several muscles which will ache, namely rhomboids, supraspinatus, teres minor etc,  let alone trapezius. So what happens to us when we garden?

Digging: The foot is a good place to start. There are increased forces acting through a small diameter of metal when we use either a fork or spade, and in order to increase the force needed to get the spade into the ground we use the middle or metatarsal region of the foot. Long durations of digging will tend to squash the tendons and displace the joint in the foot causing inflammation and swelling. The good news here is that bone and joint bruising is temporary.

Bending over to dig the ground activates so many muscles and normally we expect all the muscles in the hip and thigh to work together. What you will find however is that some muscles will do more work than others. For example, the hamstrings and inner thigh muscles called the adductors actually work more in digging than the quadriceps in the front of the thigh.  Repetitive lifting of the lead leg can give rise to groin strain, so pace yourself.

Seed planting or pruning is in fact one of the best exercises you can do for the wrist and hands. Now you might have thought that I was going to say it was bad for you, but on the contrary, it is good. There are so many muscles in the arms from the elbow to the fingers which in the main do not get a workout. People focus on the wrist to the fingers causing therapists to see so many carpal injuries.

Improper physical use of tools actually leads to more injuries with gardening that you might imagine. When we take a short cut using equipment in the garden we are prone to more aches and pains. Biomechanically we know that a muscle or joint operates along  certain biomechanical planes i.e. saggital, coronal or transverse and that muscles also work better when we use whole length of that muscle and not just a part of it. In order to prevent more aches and pains in the garden make sure that you remain physically fit and healthy.

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