Gardening Without Pain
Painfree Spring Gardening
Apart from having a gorgeous garden to sit in, there are many positive health benefits to be had from time spent outdoors, a recent study carried out by scientists from Kansas State University, involved 53 older volunteers, 25 of whom were gardeners. The participants were assessed for general physical and mental health including hand strength and pinch force.
Those volunteers who showed the best levels of physical health were the more active gardeners, and all the gardeners had stronger and more nimble hands, not to mention higher-than-average levels of self-esteem.
Previous research by the same team found that regular energetic gardening provides the same positive health benefits as exercise programmes like jogging or swimming. Gardening chores including pushing a lawnmower, digging holes and pulling weeds use muscle groups all over the body and provide a good general workout.
Spring arrives ………. eventually
March this year has been a thoroughly miserable month: the ground is muddy, the rain icy, the light dull and most people are feeling fed up, but, as this dreary month closes, if you look closely, then spring is visible everywhere. Buds are fattening, and the pointy shoots of bulbs push themselves through the cold soil. These are stark reminders that soon things will need to be done, so let's don the wellies, grab a cup of tea and head outside
In early spring, it can sometimes look like there isn't much going on and not a lot to do, but if you get started with the gardening this early in the year, you will be grateful later.
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So, how are things looking?
Everything is probably messy, so it's important to clear the borders and beds of moss and weeds now, to prevent them from taking over by late spring. Make sure you get it all out but try not to stand on any emerging buds and flowers.
Early spring is the best time to prune shrubs and trees and cut back your hydrangeas to a healthy bud. And, if you want the garden to look smart in one quick sweep, a good tip is to edge the beds and borders and then clip the edges with grass shears for a nice clean line.
But there are so many more things that need to be done. All before the end of March. So, the time has come to make a list!
Things we need to do……
- Plant bare-rooted trees as early in March as possible, while the soil is still cool.
- Dig manure into the borders.
- Get supports into the borders before things start growing
- Order vegetable seeds
- Prune fruit trees
- Plant the seeds that we've already impulse purchased
- Divide grasses and some herbaceous plants.
- Prune and tie back climbing roses.
- Cut back willows and dogwoods later in the month
This is an excellent time to clear the pond of weed and debris too, but make sure you have a helper with you in case you slip and fall in.
It's great to get back out into the garden after those long, dark winter months but, there are several painful conditions, often associated with gardening, that can ruin the positive health benefits - how can we avoid them?
Naturally easing the discomfort….
Back pain, usually a few hours or even the day after gardening is mainly a result of either continual bending, which overstretches the muscles and causes them to go in to spasm when you stand up again, or a disc injury which happens usually when too much force is applied. To avoid these problems, it is important to envisage that your spine works best when it is in an extended position. So, when you lift a bag of compost, do so using your hips and knees; when you dig, try to stand more upright and lever the blade by transferring weight back and forth from one foot to another. When clearing moss or weeding, try a kneeling posture using a cushion or kneeling pad to protect your knees.
And it's definitely worth keeping a Paingone pen with you all day, this handy TENs device instantaneously targets pain, even working through clothing to stimulate the release of endorphins, the body's own natural painkillers.
If you struggle with Osteoarthritis it's still important to move as much as possible, so some light work in the garden works as a boost. To support joint health a joint supplement such as Nutriplex, which contains Glucosamine, or topical application of a massage gel-like Joint Plus Gel which contains Glucosamine, Eucalyptus and Rosemary to soothe contracted muscles and aching joints, make sure you're at your best before and after any physical activity.
One of the reasons knees and hips are prone to pain and injury when you're in the garden is because the work requires so much squatting, kneeling, and bending. Importantly you should try to use your knees in a parallel position so that they are bending in the same direction, and, always use a kneeling pad. At the end of a long day try applying hot and then cold compresses and then massage with Freeze Gel - a classified medical device, this cooling gel targets discomfort by stimulating cold receptors in the skin to help regulate pain.