DIY = Don’t Injure Yourself

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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 my door. It doesn’t have to be this way.

I am going to focus particularly on gardening in this article but please use all these principles for all types of DIY.

The most common things that injured people forgot:

1. Gardening is exercise. Often it can be very hard exercise and at the very least gets you into unusual positions for long periods. If you were going to do any form of exercise you would warm up. Walk on the treadmill for 5 minutes, 5 minutes on the stationary bike, a bit of a stretch and you are ready to do your workout. Around the house and garden we tend to grab the tools and dive right it.

2. Hip hinge. 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.

3. Stay hydrated. A dehydrated joint and muscle is a stiff joint and muscle. Use nature’s lubricant – water is miracle juice!

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

5. Cool down. Take an easy walk or bike ride after you are done for the day before your body cools down. This will help flush the muscles and joints, aiding repair and reducing delayed stiffness. When you are done with the walk/ride gently stretch the tight areas.

6. Bath in Epsom salts. These are basically magnesium rich salt. Put about 500g of Epsom salts into your bath after a hard day. Magnesium is efficiently absorbed by your body through your skin. You need to soak for at least 20 minutes.

The best way to warm up is to simply walk. Go for about a 10 minutes walk, starting off slowly and build up your speed as you go. This will allow your body to realise that activity is about to take place while the muscles gently warm up. Don’t start by stretching your cold body. Muscles don’t like being stretched when cold so either leave your stretching to the end, or after you get back from the walk.

Not matter what activity you are about to do, warm up your spine. When you get back from 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 this within your comfort levels. Next lean side to side and lastly stand up tall and rotate one way then the other.

Specific upper/lower body stretches can now be done depending on what you are about to do.

If you would like a free printout of some excellent exercises for your spine please email me on: [email protected] and I will get it to you.

I hope you enjoyed learning more about your body.

Fit to Thrive!


  1. Will Pieterse on 20 December, 2017 at 20:43 said:

    Four months of suffering due to work related back and neck

    pain and an unfinished round of golf due to the same problem forced me to
    look for help. Fortunately my wife, as they usually do, had the perfect solution – physio treatment with her physiotherapist who got her back on her feet after a big back operation. Previous experience had me in doubt but I had no option and made an appointment. Thank you Elrina after only three sessions I am totally pain free and feel years younger.

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