WCHC event offers tips for body-friendly gardening

Last updated on May 25, 23

Posted on May 25, 23

2 min read

As the weather heats up and the gardening season kicks in, the Woolwich Community Health Centre has a few words of advice so that even those with mobility issues can still dig in.

“It’s about posture. The bottom line is being able to navigate throughout the day activity of gardening and being able to do it efficiently and pain free,” said Kenrick Walsh, a physiotherapist assistant at the centre, who hosted a demonstration last week in St. Jacobs.

Also key is being aware of your body centre, said physiotherapist Bernadette Vanspall.

“Just by doing body work, it’s a beautiful way to integrate body, mind and spirit. While you’re doing that, you’re getting your body to go through movements, to build muscle strength, and enjoy it in the way that you’re creating things,” Vanspall said.

These strategies are not just geared towards seniors and can help anyone with mobility challenges, Vanspall said. Gardening can be as demanding as a persons’ physical capabilities allow, she noted.

“You can either kneel down or use kneeling pads, which would be more physically demanding and getting up if our health allows for that,” she said.

Also present was Julia Swijters from the St. Jacobs Home Hardware, who demonstrated a number of items to make it easier to garden, such as a garden bench that reduces the need for kneeling.

Swijters also suggested using tools with cushioned handles and conserving water to reduce the need to move portable sprinklers around.

“There’s all kinds of important reasons [to make gardening easier],” Swijters said.

“One, for your mental and physical health. Two, for cost savings and learning how to grow your own food, “she said. “And, just being able to enjoy your time in the garden and have it be less of a chore and be more of a place of tranquility and respite.”

Walsh encourages gardeners to be aware of their abilities and limitations.

“For example, if  most of the time you’re bending, how do you bend without being in pain and be less sore the following day?”

Vanspall agreed, noting that the goal is to put the least amount of strain on the joints as possible.

“My main thing for physio is building body awareness and building awareness of body sensations because that on its whole integrates mind and spirit and is good for our well being,” she said.

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