Preparing your garden for the winter months can be quite labour intensive. It’s the time of year to clean up your borders, rake your leaves and take away all those nasty weeds that have grown up through the end of summer and autumn. The big thing people forget when doing their winter chores though, is to look after themselves so I’m going to go through a few tips that may help you avoid problems this winter:
1. Warm Up
If you were going for a run, long walk, or to do any form of exercise, you would probably decide to do a small warm up and get your body ready for what its about to do. Gardening is the same as any other form of exercise and requires a warm up. This will help get your body moving and the blood flowing to the muscles you are about to use. I would recommend some simple side bends and rotations of the spine, some small squats and arm swings. This may seem a little over the top however you’ll never regret it but you might regret not doing it!
2. Take your time
If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to get it all done on the first day and in the first couple of hours. But remember short bursts and breaks are key. Most of our issues come from “overdoing” it or putting more pressure on our back than it can handle. So take regular breaks - if you’re stuck in one position for too long, for example bent over in a plant border, change position or go to a different task and come back to it; and remember, if you have a busy day and heavy workload, have a day off the next day and give your body time to rest.
3. Think Posture
I’ve never been one to warn people about posture, as our bodies are supposed to be used and bend. However prolonged bending or repetitive bending might cause short term pain and issues. Be mindful of how you’re working. If you need to get down into that border, then bend your knees and sit on your heels or maybe go down on one knee; and if you’re brushing up leaves or digging don’t hunch over your tool the whole time.
4. Getting help
This applies to both your garden and your back. If you know you have a lot to do, then get someone in to help you or ask your family or partner to assist. On the other side, if you do pick up a niggle or an injury then get help. See your local therapist or do some stretches to try and relieve the issue yourself.
Good luck and take care of yourselves - Alex