"Weeding Out" Gardening Pain
Gardening is a wonderful activity for the mind, body, and soul. Along with the rewards, comes hard manual labor, sore muscles, and the possibilities of injury. Many people tend to be “weekend gardeners” or think of gardening as a casual day of fun spent outdoors. Warming up, stretching, and preparing for the task at hand is often overlooked. Repetitive tasks as well as maintaining static positions such as remaining bent over, squatting, kneeling, and reaching contribute to injury. Consider these tips before you get out there and get dirty!
Break It Up
- Listen to your body and take frequent breaks to avoid discomfort in your joints, neck, and back.
- Work in 30-minute increments with breaks to stretch, hydrate and sit down.
- Try alternating your tasks - Do one light task, like weeding, for 15 minutes and then switch to something heavier, like digging or hauling dirt for another 15 minutes.
Practice Proper Lifting Techniques
- Lift only what you can manage - if you're not sure if you can lift it, don't try without help!
- Use a garden cart or wheelbarrow whenever possible, or use a tarp to drag a heavy object instead of lifting.
- Place your feet shoulder with apart, keep your chest up & your back flat, and bend your knees to squat and lift the object with your legs.
- Tighten your tummy muscles before lifting to help brace your torso.
- Keep the object close to your body as you move it.
- Always avoid twisting at your back once you are carrying the load.
Use The Right Tools
- Consider using ergonomic garden tools which are made to keep your body in a neutral position. This will decrease the stress applied to your muscles and joints.
- Use cushioned handled tools to reduce the strain on your hand and arm muscles.
- Lightweight, sturdy tools are a good choice.
- Wear a well-padded garden glove to protect from blisters.
- When using hand tools, wrap your thumb around the handle, avoid pushing the tool with your thumb
- Consider longer handled tools to avoid excessive reaching and bending.
- Use a gardening stool or pad for extended periods of weeding or planting to protect your knees.
- To avoid the need for excessive bending, consider planting in raised flower beds.