Gardeners will need to watch their backs with the fresh round of water restrictions introduced today, cautions the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA).
Physiotherapists in Brisbane reported an influx of patients suffering from injuries sustained while manually watering their gardens, following the tightening of water controls in June. Similar increases in watering-related injuries are
likely in other cities in Australia.
“Certainly, older people are at greater risk but it’s people from all age groups who are visiting physios with injuries from watering,” said APA president, Cathy Nall.
Affixing hoses to take grey water from bathrooms, kitchens and laundries for re-use in the garden is an ideal solution, but if this can’t be managed, using buckets and watering cans is the next best way to water without wasting a
“Manual watering with buckets and cans will be allowed in the early mornings and evenings, but we are encouraging older people in particular to avoid watering in the evenings when their vision is reduced and they are more
susceptible to falls. It’s preferable to water in the early morning when it’s cooler and brighter,” said Ms Nall.
“Wrist, shoulder and back pain is also more likely when carrying heavy buckets and watering cans, and lifting awkward loads. Warming up with a few stretches can make a difference, and it’s worth stretching a bit more when
you’re done,” she said.
The Australian Physiotherapy Association offers these timely tips to minimise the risk of injury from lugging litres of water to the garden.
Tips to minimise injury and pain
- When lifting buckets or watering cans, remember to bend your knees, not your back. Never twist your body when your back is bent. When lifting, keep your feet apart and one slightly in front of the other.
- Never overfill your bucket. Only carry as much weight as you know you can lift comfortably. Hint: half-fill buckets to lighten the load and help avoid wrist and shoulder pain.
- Distribute the load equally on each side of the body by using two lighter containers rather than one heavy bucket. Hint: rinse out and use 2-litre milk bottles for watering.
- Always carry buckets as close to your body as possible. Holding any weight away from your body increases the stress on your upper body and back.
- Place the bucket on a stool or chair when filling it, so you don’t have to lift it up as far when it’s filled.
- Keep the pathway where you are carrying the buckets free from trip hazards and choose the flattest path possible.
- Pay attention to where you place your feet (it helps if you can actually see your feet) to avoid a stumble, and avoid wearing thongs or flip flops.