It’s summer, and many gardens are in full bloom and producing a luscious harvest. A lot of work goes into developing, planting, and maintaining gardens, and we want to make sure your gardening hobby is nourishing your body and mind as well as the earth.
1) Warm up and stretch before you get down and dig. Before starting on gardening activities, do a brisk 5- to 10-minute walk, light lower and upper body stretching and full range of motion movements to prepare your body for the gardening demands.
2) Use proper mechanics and posture. Keep a neutral back, lift with your legs, carry heavy items close to your body, stand square to your task to avoid twisting, and keep your weight balanced. If you need to stand and reach, bend with your hips and not your back.
3) Make adjustments to put your body in a better position. You can raise beds or utilize a gardening stool or a kneeling pad to avoid bending over, you can use lightweight or easy-grip tools to reduce upper body strain, and you can use long-handled tools such as shovels and rakes that allow you to stand.
4) Change position and tasks frequently. This allows you to stand up and stretch and not stay in a bent over, kneeling, or crouching position for extended times. Try to alternate standing and kneeling tasks to further change up the muscles that are used.
5) Strengthen your body in preparation for gardening demands. Emphasizing core strength, quad and hamstring strength and flexibility, shoulder strength, and wrist and grip strength and motion will help ensure that your muscles and joints will be able to do the work that is asked of them.
6) Rest and listen to your body. Don’t work to fatigue and allow yourself to spread your work over time. Working to the point of (or through) pain, will often limit your ability to spend time in your garden, so stop if you need to stop.
You should be able to enjoy your time taking care of your gardening and seeing the fruits of your labor! Unfortunately, the physical demand of this wonderful hobby can be more than anticipated, so prepare your body and encourage regular movement! If you develop pain, can’t do certain tasks, or have pain that won’t go away, our providers at Upstate Orthopedics can help you out. Click here to request an appointment.