Whatever you're up to, just be careful! Avoid neck and back pain, or those general aches and pains by following a few simple tips...
'How does your garden grow...?'
- Wear comfy clothes that don't restrict your movement, and like any other form of exercise, make sure you warm up the muscles first. Start off with the light, easy jobs before tackling the heavier tasks.
- Don't overstretch - get as close as possible to the things you're pruning, and invest in some decent step ladders and long-handled loppers.
- Avoid repetitive strain type injuries by spending no more than 20-30 minutes on any one thing and make sure you take regular breaks. Take regular breaks and admire all your efforts!
- If laying a patio, keep the slab close to your body and bend your knees; it is sometimes better to bend one knee rather two, as your supporting leg gives you a position of strength. If using railway sleepers, two people will probably be needed.
'Do it yourself...!'
- When using a ladder or steps, make sure you are always facing it, keeping your shoulders, hips and knees pointing in the same direction. The same is true for most activities - move your feet rather than twisting from the waist or hips.
- Rather than leaning or reaching, use some steps and move them regularly to keep up with where you are. Or, if you're working low down, get down on the floor! Make sure your ladder is firmly planted in position, and have someone else around to keep an eye on things - or at least a mobile phone in your pocket in case of mishaps!
- If you are painting a ceiling, think about getting the largest amount of paint on in the shortest space of time. Use a paint pad or roller with an extended handle and hold it at chest height. Keep your head as neutral as possible and keep facing forward so you don’t over exert your neck - again, get to the level you're working at, rather than overstretching!
- Plan ahead - buy heavy items like cement and gravel in smaller bags rather than one big one as it is easier and safer to carry. Make use of the trolleys and wheelbarrows to avoid heavy lifting. Careful when loading items into the boot of the car; ideally get them delivered and have them unloaded where you need them to save unnecessary carrying.
- Whether travelling by plane, train or car avoid getting stiff by wriggling around. Do some shoulder shrugs and neck stretches, clench your buttocks and calves and circle your feet and ankles.
- If on a train or plane, try to stand up and move around every 20-40 minutes or, when you stop for a petrol/food break on a car journey, take the opportunity to just stretch and shake out your limbs to allow your muscles to relax.
- Compensate for your prolonged time of inactivity during the journey by doing light exercise – just going for a brisk 20 minute walk once you have arrived at your destination will help.
- Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of water when you are travelling - and avoid alcohol when you are flying. This will help to prevent muscle pain and stiffness.
- If the weather permits, make the most of the time off and get out into the fresh air. A brisk walk, or a game of frisbee on the beach is a great way to burn off the Creme Eggs, or work up an appetite for another hot cross bun! It''ll also help to loosen up the joints, stretch out the muscles, easing aches and pains and low back problems.
- If rain stops play, dig out the old game of Twister to stretch out a few of the joints, or borrow the kids' Wii and get moving!
- Even if you're slobbing out, making the most of the Bank Holiday TV, try to keep moving. Get up and wriggle every advert break, and leave the remote control the other side of the room - this will keep your joints moving and will help prevent back pain.
Disclaimer: Following this advice will not only keep you looser and freer, but will keep your local friendly chiropractor happy too so she can catch up with her 'to do' list!!