It’s time to compost the gardens, prep the lawns and plant the flowers. Common gardening tasks, such as digging, planting, weeding, mulching and raking can cause stress and strain on muscles and joints, primarily in the shoulders, back, neck and knees. Our team at Vineyard Complementary Medicine and The American Physical Therapy Association recommends the following 10 tips to minimize your risk of injury:
1. Warm up before you begin. Get your heart rate up by taking a 10‐minute walk followed by some stretches for your upper and lower back, neck, arms and legs. Roll your shoulders back in a circular motion and slowly move your head from side to side a few times to loosen up.
2. Don’t overdo it. Be mindful of how your body feels. If you experience an aching back or neck, then slow down and stretch or stop and switch to a different task.
3. Use a garden cart or wheelbarrow to move tools and heavy planting materials.
4. Don’t kneel on both knees. Keep one foot on the ground to give your back more
stability. If you have to kneel, use kneepads or a pillow to absorb some of the pressure.
5. Change positions and take frequent breaks to avoid stiffness or cramping.
6. Start with smaller projects and build gradually. Don’t try to do it all at once.
7. Keep your “BOX” square. This is the area on your abdomen between your rib cage and front pelvic bones.
8. Practice proper body mechanics. Bend your knees and contract your abdominal muscles to avoid straining your back.
9. End your gardening session with a short walk or some light stretching. Take a warm bath or enjoy your outdoor shower to help prevent next‐day soreness.
10. If you experience pain, contact your physical therapist or other qualified healthcare practitioner.
Most of all, be sure you enjoy the sunshine, the fresh air and your time with your loved ones.