Admit it – you’re itching to spend the day tackling all the chores in your garden, including hauling massive bags of earth or mulch, creating new edging for your flowerbeds, raking up debris or yanking out the weeds that threaten to take over your yard. While gardening is a great way to boost physical activity and maintain mobility and flexibility, it can strain your muscles and joints. So before you jump in and throw out your back, here are some tips to avoid injuries in the garden:
• Warm up
Just 10 minutes spent marching on the spot and stretching your shoulders, upper and lower back, neck, arms and legs can save you a world of soreness.
Using the right equipment means less force required to rip out weeds, till your soil or plant bulbs. Plus, you’ll cut your chore time in half! Don’t forget to use your wheelbarrow to move pots, plants and garden waste. Also, wear kneepads or place a foam mat under your knees to alleviate the pressure on those tender joints.
• Skin deep
Avoid scrapes and sunburn by wearing long sleeves, light pants and a hat. Wear sunscreen on all exposed areas, and drink plenty of water.
• Mind your reach
Before perching on a ladder to prune a branch, make sure you’re on stable ground, or get someone to hold you in position so you don’t topple over. Pay attention to your posture: if you’re lifting heavy objects, remember to use your legs and keep your back straight. If you have to turn, keep objects close to the body and don’t twist your back. While sweeping or raking, move your feet rather than over-reaching with your arms and back.
• Rise up
Consider putting in some raised garden beds. If you can avoid bending and stooping over to tend your plants, your hips, knees and back will thank you!
• Change it up
Starting to feel sore? Using one muscle group can lead to stiffness, so try to move around and change positions every half-hour. Be sure to give both hands some work to do so you avoid repetitive strain injuries. Take frequent breaks, stretch, and get out of the sun whenever possible.
• Cool down
Once your gardening is done, take a 10-minute walk to help loosen up your muscles and joints. A hot bath or shower will also help your muscles relax.
What are your favorite ways to stay safe in the garden?