Steele: Prevention best treatment for gardening injuries

Four years ago, my ability to pursue my lifelong passion for gardening was abruptly halted.

Four years ago, my ability to pursue my lifelong passion for gardening was abruptly halted.

In a hurry, with my mind elsewhere, I attempted to transplant a large clump of hosta using my back rather than squatting down to use my legs. Immediately, I knew something was wrong but continued, with aching back, to garden that day and the next.

This foolhardiness landed me in excruciating pain in hospital for a week with a herniated disc and unable to garden much for a year.

Jill Reid became my physiotherapist. An avid gardener, she taught me how to strengthen my core muscles to support my back and how to garden safely.

Reid, now a physiotherapist and educator at the Kelowna Arthritis Centre, will be giving a presentation Gardening with Arthritis with less Groan & Moan! on Wednesday, March 14, 7 p.m., for the Kelowna Garden Club at the seniors centre on 1353 Richter St. All are welcome.

Reid says: “Most people develop bad habits. I promote other ideas. Anyone who gardens will benefit from the ergonomic discussion. I’ll also cover bracing, different tools, pacing and adaption of the garden to suit limitations.

Joints like being moved, it lubricates them, though it must not be done in a stressful way, and not too repetitively.”

The library has several books on gardening with disabilities.

After my injury I found ergonomic tools at Lee Valley ( and locally at the Art Knapps store on Springfield, while Green and Bear It has some helpful items. Good tools that suit your body needs are the best investment.

To recover, I changed to the gentle yoga class at the Kelowna Yoga House.

Yoga helps me with flexibility and strength and I am now back in regular classes. Teachers at KYH always adapt poses if you let them know of injuries.

Sandra Bradshaw’s gentle Feldenkrais manipulations and exercises teach my body to move with ease while minimizing pain and discomfort.

Using the Feldenkrais Method, I learned to change tasks frequently and to use my whole body to ease strain on specific joints and muscles.

From repetitive tasks and long days of nursery work, I ended up with elbow, knee and wrist problems.

The staff at Dyck’s Drugs fitted me with braces to support the joints whenever I am in danger of aggravating them.

Recently I’ve discovered the healing powers of Traumeel homeopathic remedy and cream and Arnica gel and remedy.

Both ease muscle pain, joint stiffness and can dramatically reduce bruising from injury.

Soaking in a hot bath with one to two cups of Epsom salts really eases sore, stiff muscles.

I’ve learned to hire help for tasks like digging, moving and spreading mulch or soil and transplanting big plants, saving my body for more skilled and enjoyable tasks.

More than ever I appreciate the Seven Principles of Xeriscape. Following them helps me to garden successfully with a lot less effort.