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Tips to Keep Gardeners Gardening

by Athletico3 Comments

With warmer weather upon us, many of us are aching to replace our shovels and winter boots with gardening tools and watering cans. Very simple recreational activities such as gardening can lead to some muscle aches and joint pain if proper body mechanics and general safety are not followed. The following are some general guidelines to keep in mind while gardening to minimize the aches and pains.

Before you garden
Before you begin gardening, do some warm-up exercises to get your muscles ready. Some small arm circles or marching in place for several minutes can warm up your muscles and help prevent soreness. If you are not used to gardening, gradually build up your time. Start off with 15-20 minutes, and slowly increase your time when you are ready. Make sure you are wearing loose, comfortable clothing that will easily breathe and allow you to move. Take breaks often, and always remember to rehydrate since you will be burning calories in the garden!

One of the hardest parts of gardening is that you often have to lift heavy items such as bags of soil or planters. Lifting improperly can lead to lower back strain or even sciatic pain. If possible, minimize the weight of the bag of soil by removing half the dirt into another pot. Bend your knees, and lift more with your legs to help maintain the natural curve in your lower back and avoid any lifting and twisting.

Planting / Weeding
Try to prep your planting area in a standing position by using lightweight, long-handled garden tools. When using a shovel for digging, bend at the hips and maintain the curve in your lower back. Never use a swinging motion to move the dirt to the side. Move slowly, and carefully lift the dirt and place it aside. Plant from a kneeling position, and avoid squatting down as that will put a lot of pressure through your knees. Use a kneeling stool or foam pad to help cushion your knees.

If you have chronic lower back pain, consider using flower boxes or raised flower beds to prevent having to bend down to the ground level. The height and width of the box can be adjusted to meet your needs. Just don’t make the box too wide, so you don’t have to lean in too much.

Weeding is another tedious gardening task that may lead to aches and pains. It is also a task that most of us do not enjoy, so it is important to minimize the amount of weeding we must do. Consider using plants as ground cover or cover your garden with mulch or compost to minimize weeds from growing. Try a weed spray to rid your garden of weeds before you get on your hands and knees to do the arduous task.

Mowing the Lawn
If possible, use an electric start mower. If you must pull the cord to start your mower, bend your knees to reach the cord and maintain the natural curve in your lower back. Tighten your abdominals just prior to pulling the cord to give yourself an extra support through your core. When pushing the mower, stand upright and continue to maintain the curve in your lower back. If you have a very large lawn, take breaks often or consider breaking up the task into a few days.

Have a wonderful growing season, and enjoy your gardening!

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  1. Sam Darin

    When using garden tools make sure the are sharpened and cleaned after each use. A shovel or spade that has never been sharpened can cause severe back and arm pain. Most tools are not sharpened when you purchase them, especaily shovels, spades, hoes and and other digging tools.

  2. Johnny

    Some nice little tips here. I love gardening and these should make it a little easier for the newer people to start out. It’s a lot of fun, but it does take a lot of time and effort.

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