It is the time of year when we are getting more active. Many people in our community enjoy gardening both as a form of exercise and to relax. If you have spent much time in the yard you know that gardening can take a toll on your body. However, there are steps that we can take to minimize risk and get back after set-backs.
1: Warm-up and Cool-down. Gardening is just like any other activity. You will perform and feel better if you warm up prior to gardening. You will feel much better and reduce your risk of injury if go for a walk and stretch prior to activity. The walk should be 5 to 10 minutes followed by stretching.
2: Protect your back. Use good lifting technique when lifting and avoid bending and twisting when carrying a load. Use your legs to lift and take more steps rather than twisting. In general, reaching out in front of you is can cause injury.
3: Use equipment. There are several good ergonomic equipment options including long handled tools, kneeling pads and wheelbarrows. Also, planting in raised beds will reduce the stress on your body. Equipment may be slightly less convenient but hurting yourself while gardening is much more inconvenient.
4: Don’t overdo it. This time of year weeds grow fast and plants are producing but don’t overdo it. It is tempting to try and get everything done at once. Be patient. The weeds can wait. Keeping yourself safe has to be the top priority.
Gardening can be a very enjoyable and rewarding activity. However, at times our bodies may not be ready for all the stooping, twisting and lifting associated with the activity. By using some of these quick tips, you can reduce your chance of injury. However, if you work long enough there is a good chance that you will experience at least a “tweak.” Physical therapy is a resource for managing your pain and getting back out in the garden whether your problems are major or minor.
Feel free to contact Siskiyou Physical Therapy if you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment. We regularly prescribe exercise programs to reduce exercise risk and help patients rehabilitate after injuries.
Jon Hill, DPT, Licensed Physical Therapist with Siskiyou Physical Therapy
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