This time of year, many of us are looking forward to getting outside to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. After sitting inside during the long cold winter, it is time to get the yard into shape and to get the garden planted. These activities can be great exercise and very rewarding, however they can also result in pain and injury if not gone about the right way.
Gardening requires bending, lifting, carrying, standing, squatting, pushing and pulling. When warming up and using proper body mechanics, along with taking proper breaks and spreading the workload out appropriately, injuries and soreness can be avoided. As we get older, we need to accept that we cannot do as much at one time as we once did. And at any age, we should all be mindful of the proper body mechanics and techniques to use during the gardening season!
Proper body mechanics include:
- Working at a comfortable height vs bending and stooping at the waist. Consider using a raised table, countertop, garden kneeler or seat, etc.
- When lifting objects, squat down, bending at the hips and knees (not the waist), and hold objects as close to you as possible.
- When turning, rotate your whole body. Do not twist through your back.
- When possible, push objects rather than pulling them.
- Keep objects close to your body when carrying or holding them.
Take frequent rest breaks and make sure you are staying hydrated. Switch positions often to avoid repetitive stress on your back and muscles. Do not be afraid to ask for help from family and friends with heavy lifting or tasks that require more effort and energy. Also, shop around for the many available ergonomic garden tools/equipment that are used to make work easier.
By taking time to use proper technique and equipment, gardening can be an enjoyable, life-long hobby! If you are experiencing any issues or pain while gardening, reach out to your provider or call the Windom Area Health Rehabilitation Department at 507-831-0634.
By Carmin Johnson, PTA