Spring is here and our focus starts to turn to the outdoors. Walking outside in the crisp spring air is something to look forward. Getting the gardens and lawn in shape, maybe not so much!
This could be due to the fact that we look at getting the gardens ready as a “necessary evil of spring”, something that needs to be done before we are able to do the things we LIKE. Common gardening activities can cause stress throughout the body, especially if we have not been very active throughout the winter.
Digging, edging, planting, weeding, mulching, raking, clipping and bending all stress our joints and muscles. To what extent is determined as much by our bodies as it is by the intensity of the activity. Depending on the activity, the shoulders, neck back and knees can all be vulnerable to injury and overuse when tending to your garden in the spring.
The following suggestions can help you prevent waking up the next morning wishing you never started tending to the garden.
- Set up a plan for what you want to accomplish. Start out slow to allow your body to get warmed up. You could even perform some simple calisthenics to help increase your blood flow and prepare your body for the tasks at hand.
- Vary your activities – break up a digging or shoveling session with some quiet weeding or transplanting. You can avoid stiffening up and over stressing a body part.
- Pay attention to your body! If you are noticing achiness in your body, take a break or move onto a different activity.
- Use a cart or wheelbarrow to help you move heavy material and tools. In addition, get assistance to help you with trees and larger shrubs.
- Kneel as much as possible. This will prevent you from bending at the waist. Use knee pads or use a gardening pad. If you have discomfort form kneeling, try kneeling on one and keep the other foot on the ground.
- Always use good body mechanics! This goes for picking up a shrub or the small spade that fell to the ground. Back pain is the number one reason people go to a physical therapy.
- Avoid twisting your spine when lifting, pivot instead. Lift and move the feet to get the object where you want it to go.
- End your gardening activities with some gentle backward bends. With gardening, we are bending forward, leaning forward and doing things on the ground. This is a great activity to counter the time leaning forward.
Gardening does not have to be a painful activity. Enjoy the outdoors and be safe doing it.
Thanks go to the APTA at http://www.moveforwardpt.com/Resources/Detail/gardening