Reminder to Garden Smart to Avoid Injury

Written by eHealth Navigator

Spring is upon us causing our green thumbs to come out, and we begin our gardening routines.  But take care.  Gardening can also take a physical toll thanks to the bending, lifting, kneeling, raking, and digging.

Gardening chores put many different muscles and joints into movement.   The larger muscle groups of the legs, arms, and back are utilized during these chores.  Over the next few months it is important to begin a simple stretching routine for these muscle groups.  As with any exercise routine, you should warm up before stretching.   Physical therapists recommend that you warm up before stretching and then progressing into your activity of choice.  The pre-stretching warm up could include going for a walk or calisthenics ( for example windmills or jumping jacks) to get your body ready for stretching.   By maintaining good flexibility, you will see much less incidence of muscle strains and prolonged stiffness or pain.  Stretches should be held for 10 to 15 seconds before activity and for 20 to 30 seconds after activity.

It is important not to do too much too soon.  Many folks sit at their desks all week, then try to clean up the yard, till, and plant all in one day.  If that describes you, you should try instead to break up gardening into segments with rest periods in between so you do not become fatigued and ultimately injure yourself.

You must also remember to hydrate appropriately.  Dehydration can cause muscle fatigue and cramps, which can lead to more dangerous health issues.  Nutritionists recommend drinking at least six 8- ounce glasses of water per day, and drinking at least six ounces of water every 20 to 30 minutes during activity.  You will have more energy and be able to garden longer without fatigue or injury.

Finally, when you tackle a project, make sure you are using the right-size tool in the appropriate manner, such as standing on a ladder while pruning or utilizing a rake for leaves instead of for tilling.  Injuries often occur when using the wrong size or type of equipment for the project at hand. 

Last Updated on Monday, 22 May 2017 10:12PM