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Be a S.M.A.R.T. Gardener!

National Physiotherapy Month Promotes Mobility and Safety
by Shari-Lynn Sare
May 12, 2004

On April 24, 2004, the Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA), along with its 10,000 members, launched National Physiotherapy Month (NPM).

With a large majority of Canadians heading into their gardens to take advantage of the spring thaw, Canadian physiotherapists want to ensure gardeners have an injury free gardening season.

Thirty minutes of gardening delivers general health benefits similar to going for a brisk walk. It’s an activity that involves the entire body - building mobility, strength and endurance. With its focus on crouching, bending, reaching and lifting, gardeners need to prepare and be aware of their bodies.

“Gardening is an activity for all ages and stages of life”, says Judy Cline, physiotherapist based in St. Catharines, ON. “It is also an excellent way to gain and maintain mobility. It involves all the major muscle groups and all parts of the body. To enjoy a pain free gardening season, remember that you need to start gradually, stop frequently and stretch often. Make sure that your tools fit you; that they are sharp and well lubricated. Spread the heavy activities out over several days. Enjoy the physical benefits of gardening while you stop to smell the flowers.” Gardening continues to be a focus for NPM because it’s one of the best activities for maintaining mobility.

Physiotherapists are concerned about the state of the nation’s physical mobility, particularly, as a result of the most recent CPA/Ipsos Reid National Mobility Study. Two key findings of the poll are directly relevant to gardeners:

• A majority of Canadians (54%) believe that they are less mobile than they were 10 years ago.

• One quarter (28%) of Canadians have difficulty bending, kneeling or stooping.

Physiotherapists recommend these key tips for gardeners looking to Spring into Action this season:

• To reduce the risk of strains and pains, it’s best to warm up and stretch prior to gardening.

• Stretching is essential to ensure greater flexibility, strength and endurance. Areas to stretch include the neck, shoulders, wrists, low back and legs.

• Stretches should be slow and controlled, and held for 10 – 15 seconds, to the point of gentle tension. CPA offers tips on good stretches for gardeners and recommends that choosing the right kind of gardening tools is essential as is ensuring proper body positioning to avoid discomfort and injury. A S.M.A.R.T. Gardening Information Sheet is available and free to download and print from CPA’s web site at

“The importance of National Physiotherapy Month cannot be understated,” said Sandy Rennie, CPA President. “This initiative and all the events associated with it are an integral component of helping Canadians be aware of and understand the importance of physiotherapy and physiotherapists. While medicine may add years to one’s life, physiotherapy adds life to those years. National Physiotherapy Month is the perfect vehicle for helping to bring this message to Canadians.”

The Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) is the voluntary organization representing 10,000 members and students across the country. CPA’s S.M.A.R.T. approach (which focuses on Stretching, Moving, Adding it up, Reducing strain and Talking to a physiotherapist), as well as its NPM 2004 themes of S.M.A.R.T. Gardening, Golfing, Running and Walking are opportunities for CPA members to let Canadians know about physiotherapists’ efforts in health promotion and prevention and their role in the health care community. National Physiotherapy Month runs from April 24 to May 24, 2004. For more information on staying injury-free this season, visit CPA’s web site at, where you can find more information on S.M.A.R.T. Gardening, Golfing, Running and Walking.

For more information, please contact:

Shari-Lynn Sare, Media Relations and Marketing Coordinator

416-932-1888 x 244 / 1-800-387-8679 ext. 244


Canadian Physiotherapy Association / Association canadienne de physiothérapie

2345 Yonge Street, Suite 410

Toronto, ON M4P 2E5

Fax: 416-932-9708

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