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Common Gardening Injuries

We love to spend the summer months lounging around outside, and many of us see the good weather as an opportunity to give our gardens a good tidying. We may not realise it, but tackling the wilderness of bushes and shrubs can be as strenuous as any sporting event.

Many people do not realise how far they have strained themselves until later, when the aches and pains set in and it is too late to do anything about them. Before you set out on such a monumental task it is important to be aware of the most common injuries suffered during gardening activities.

Back Pain

The motions the body goes through during gardening can cause repetitive strain and overuse injuries. Activities such as digging, raking and weeding, can strain the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the back. This often causes the muscles to go into spasm resulting in pain and stiffness. It is important to take regular breaks from activities which involve repetitive movement.

Bursitis of the Knee

Bursitis is an inflammation of a small fluid filled sac, called the bursa. Bursas form under the skin, usually over a joint and between bones and tendons. Inflammation of the bursa is characterised by pain and swelling and can result from a direct injury or repetitive strain.

Gardeners are prone to Bursitis of the knee because of repetitive pressure placed upon the area during kneeling activities, such as planting and weeding. A soft foam pad or knee pads can help to take pressure off the knee whilst kneeling. Taking regular breaks to stand up and walk around also prevents prolonged pressure from affecting the knees.

Shoulder Impingement

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and tendons which keep the shoulder stable. It is a common source of pain in the shoulder. During overhead arm motion, the space between the rotator cuff and the bone on top of the shoulder (acromion) narrows. The acromion can rub against the rotator cuff and the lubricating sac (bursa), causing irritation and pain. Gardening is an activity which leaves people prone to shoulder impingement because it involves frequent overhead arm motion, during activities such as hedge clipping and chopping back undergrowth. To prevent shoulder impingement from occurring, break up activities which involve overhead motion with other chores.

Regular fitness exercises can also help to strengthen the shoulder muscles, leaving them less vulnerable to damage.

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