It’s gardening season! Whether you’re planting, weeding, watering, or tilling, you should be pain-free! After a long winter, it is easy to accidentally injure yourself while participating in your favorite pastime. In the world of gardening, it can be easy to overdo it by straining, stressing, or pulling your muscles, back, neck, or arms. Physical therapists and occupational therapists have developed strategies to help gardeners stay healthy and happy through the use of safe practices and approaches.
Here are the top 10 ways you can help prevent harm or injury:
- Get warmed up! Whether that’s a quick walk or some stretching, a little warm-up can go a long way. A few arm circles, neck bends to the shoulders, and shoulder raises could positively impact your gardening experience and make you less sore.
- Little is more! A common occurrence in gardening is overworking the muscles through repetitive movements or not standing up to stretch. We encourage you to tune into your body and don’t be shy with taking breaks as needed.
- One knee at a time! Alternating your knee position can help support your back better and reduce the strain you may be putting on those muscles. Using a knee pad or pillow is always encouraged as the ground can be pretty hard at times!
- Change it up! By frequently changing the position of your body, you can help prevent stiffness or muscle strain. Try 15-5-15. 15 minutes pulling weeds, 5-minute break to sit, 15 minutes of watering.
- Start small! The American Physical Therapy Association encourages people to build up into bigger projects. This allows the body to adjust slowly and healthfully.
- Body mechanics! Ever hear that you should lift with your knees? Applying this concept to weeding and watering can really help. Bending only at the waist to pick something off the ground can be injury-inducing, but bending at the knees will help with prevention!
- Wheelbarrow it up! When moving something heavy around, be sure first divide it into small amounts and then use a cart to help you transport it. Be sure to bend at the knees as mentioned above.
- Choose the right tools! Your joints are very important and using tools with curved or padded handholds will often help relieve muscle fatigue and stress.
- Stay balanced! When reaching, it can often be easy to lose your balance and topple over. A good strategy to avoid a fall or slip is to stay with both feet firmly planted on the ground. Investing in a reacher or grabber will often help encourage staying on firm ground instead of tip-toeing.
- Contact us! Whether you’d like more information about these strategies, help to manage your pain, or desiring rehabilitation for a reoccurring injury, give us a call at (309) 231-0676.