Spring has officially arrived despite the lingering chill in the evening air. As the sun begins to shine brighter and last a little longer, our thoughts turn to colourful flowers, fragrant herbs and fresh and delicious home grown vegetables.
Many of you are mentally planning your garden landscape and visiting local garden centers for inspiration. But have you given much thought to the physical demands of gardening? Gardening affects the neck, shoulders, wrists, low back and knees. Gardening is a great way to stay active and healthy, and with preparation and planning, you can avoid weekend warrior injuries, sprains and strains.
Here are a few key ideas to remember while gardening:
Warm up before beginning any yard work and cool down afterwards to prevent injury. Knee bends, shoulder and wrist circles, and marching on the spot target the muscles most used when gardening. Prior to sitting back with a cold drink to enjoy the fruits of your labour, allow your body time to cool down. A short 5 minute walk and some leg, back, neck and shoulder stretches help to avoid muscles from seizing up.
Proper posture has the potential to prevent most gardening injuries. Avoid heavy lifting and twisting when preparing your soil. Use proper lifting techniques by using your legs and keeping the weight close to your body and tighten your abdominal muscles (don’t forget to breathe). Pulling weeds from a standing position? A better option is to work at the right height. And if you do need to pick something up from a standing position, bend from your hips, not your waist.
Repetitive work such as weeding or pruning with sheers can put a strain on your wrists and hands as well as cause knee pain. Kneeling on a mat or using kneepads to protect your knees or sitting on a garden bench to avoid prolonged pressure on the knees can be very beneficial. Change positions frequently or alternate tasks of differing heights to avoid stress on one joint or muscle group for prolonged periods.
Gardening is supposed to be a fun and relaxing task, so if something begins to hurt….STOP! Listen to your body. If your body continues to hurt, the Physiotherapists at Waterdown Chiropractic and Wellness Group are here to help!
By: Maryann Fabrizio, BHScPT