As spring arrives many of us will be thinking about getting out into the garden and yard. Gardening like many other activities that you do may lead to aches and pains if not done correctly.
Here are some tips for a safe gardening season:
- Warm-up and stretch before you start gardening. Like any other activity that you don’t do regularly a proper warm-up will help prepare your body for the muscle work involved. A warm-up can be as simple as a short walk or marching on a spot.
- Remember good body mechanics (refer to the health tip on “How to Lift Correctly”)
- Alternate your tasks and change your positions frequently. Alternate between heavy activities like digging and light activities like planting. As well make a point of changing your position every 10-15 minutes (i.e. kneeling to standing)
- Use a wheelbarrow or garden cart to move heavy items when possible
- For planting or weeding squat down, kneel on a kneel pad, or use kneepads.
- When digging with a shovel put the shovel head vertically into the ground and step on the blade, lifting small amounts of dirt at a time.
- When raking, hoeing, stand close to the tool and place one leg back using arm movements to do the work. Move with the rake or hoe and avoiding twisting your back. Try to switch your hand positions and leg positions every few minutes.
- Take frequent breaks
- Choose well-designed and comfortable tools. Consider the handle shape and size to make the job easier.
- Use long-handled, light-weigh tools to help you avoid twisting for standing work.
Angela Mitrovic PT, Physiotherapist, and Myra Del Rosario OT Reg. (Ont.), Occupational Therapist