Published On: June 21st, 2024
1.3 min read
Physio and acupuncturist Dr Karen Chan with Koren Helbig - in front of a raised garden bed that helps prevent bending

A decade ago, while travelling alone on an overnight train from Romania to Moldova, I suffered a back injury so severe I could barely walk for two months.

It was a herniated disc – the consequence of lugging a too-heavy backpack while wearing slightly heeled boots – and it’s since given out badly twice more.

These days I live with constant low-level pain and the risk of flare-ups. But I’m determined not to let this chronic injury rob me of something that gives me great joy: permaculture gardening.

For the past five years, I’ve worked with Adelaide physiotherapist and acupuncturist Dr Karen Chan from Prospect Physiotherapy and Health Plus Clinic, learning ways to build strength and move mindfully so I can manage my back pain and garden safely.

For my latest ABC Everday story, Dr Karen shared tips for helping gardeners avoid and manage injuries, including:

  • Why warming up is so important and the best ways to warm up.
  • The value of planks, lunges and squats before you start gardening.
  • Why you should break gardening tasks up into 30-minute chunks.
  • Stretches and inversions that can help you cool down after gardening.
  • Simple gardening tools and aids that can help injured folks continue gardening with less pain.

This story is part of a regular gardening column I write for ABC Everyday, the lifestyle website of Australia’s national broadcaster. You can find my full story archive here.

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