DIY = Don’t Injure Yourself

Spring is upon us and as is tradition we get out into the garden, spring clean the house and decorate the rotting shed. What also seems to be a tradition is that all this DIY (especially gardening) leads to a lot more crisis calls to our office, but it doesn’t have to be this way!

I am going to focus on gardening but please use these principles for all types of DIY:

The most common things that injured people forgot:

Gardening is exercise; often hard exercise and it gets you into unusual positions. Usually if you were going to exercise you would warm up but around the house and garden, we tend to grab the tools and dive right in.

Low back pain
Low back pain
The best way to warm up is to simply walk for 10 minutes, building up speed as you go. Muscles don’t like being stretched when cold so either leave your stretching to the end, or after you get back from the walk.

Always warm up your spine. After your walk do these 6 movements in order. Bend forward towards your toes. Keep this movement comfortable, even if this means not getting beyond your mid thighs. Now gently lean backwards through your low back, again, keep within your comfort levels. Next lean side to side and lastly stand up tall and rotate one way then the other.

Finish off with specific upper / lower body stretches depending on what you are about to do.

Hip hinge. I have spoken before about the importance of the hip hinge but it is so important I am going to remind you again. The hip is a ball and socket joint designed for rotation. The spine is designed for some movement but mostly to house and protect the spinal cord and nerves. So… when bending, keep your spine tall and straight and hinge around the hip. (See pictures on left.)

Stay hydrated. A dehydrated joint and muscle is a stiff joint and muscle.

Rotate tasks. Don’t get stuck in repetitive movements. If you have digging, pruning and raking to do, it is best to do them in 30 minute sets with the easiest tasks first, building to the heavier ones.

Cool down. Take an easy walk or bike ride after you are done for the day before your body cools down and afterwards gently stretch the tight areas.

Bath in Epsom salts. These are rich in magnesium which is efficiently absorbed through your skin. Put about 500g of Epsom salts into your bath after a hard day and soak for at least 20 minutes. If you would like a free printout of some excellent exercises for your spine, please email us on: and we will pop it in the post to you. I hope you enjoyed learning more about your body. Get well, stay well.