Gardening is usually looked at as a task instead of actual exercise, and the thought of it being the kind of activity with risk of injury is often the furthest thing from our mind. But GARDENING IS EXERCISE and can pose significant risk of injury due to stress on your shoulders, arms, back, hips and knees. Muscles and joints are also susceptible to due to the repetitive strain and extended periods of fixed positioning (kneeling, bending, etc.).
There are a few things that you can do to protect yourself from injury and as you prepare for your next gardening project:
1. Don’t rush…spread out the work: instead of trying to cram everything into one weekend, take two or three weekends to work on your project. Unlike those “DIY” TV Shows that have teams in the background working to turn around a big project in a couple days…you don’t have that same support so don’t aim for an overnight transformation.
2. Warm up before activity: gentle stretches and movement mimicking the type of activity you’re about to perform is an excellent way of preparing your body for the upcoming work session.
3. Use the right tools: finding tools that are ergonomic can help to relieve some of the stress on joints and muscles. Look for tools that have padded handles and spring-action features (i.e. self opening sheers). Gardening gloves with a rubber grip are also recommended. Such gloves produce a better grip, allowing less effort when holding tools which reduces muscle strain.
4. Remember technique: don’t discount the benefits proper of technique…it can make a job much easier. When lifting heaving objects (flower pot, bags of soil, decorative stones, etc.), remember to lift with your legs (not your back). And when doing repetitive work like raking, remember to keep feet shoulder width apart, use your shoulders as much as possible(and minimize bending your back), switch leg and arm positions regularly and avoid twisting your body (reposition your feet in the direction you’re extending).
The whole idea behind a beautiful garden is that you get to spend time it – the last thing you want is to be stuck inside recovering from a preventable injury. So remember these points to keep away from injury. Happy gardening!
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