Some may consider gardening a sport. It may not be a competitive sport (unless you’re competing with your neighbor for who can grow the biggest tomato), but nonetheless; it requires physical activity to perform and therefore may be considered a “sport” to serious enthusiasts. Digging, pulling weeds, adding mulch, and raking can all make you feel like you’ve had a workout at the gym, so it’s essential to use the following safety precautions to prevent injuries.
SAFETY TIP #1 - WARM UP
Take a few minutes to warm up the muscles you’ll be using. Do a short, brisk walk and then lightly stretch your shoulders, back, legs, arms, and wrists. If you need inspiration, consider these two stretches:
Wrist Flexor Stretch
Corner Pectoral Stretch
SAFETY TIP #2 – USE CORRECT POSTURE
Back pain is a common ailment in gardeners, so be mindful of your posture at all times, whether you’re standing or kneeling. When lifting, bend at your knees and keep your back straight. Imagine that your spine has been strapped to a broomstick. Do not bend at your waist or twist your torso. Keep the load you are carrying close to your body.
SAFETY TIP #3 – SWITCH UP YOUR TASKS
Vary your tasks often so that you are not holding the same position for prolonged periods. Walk around and stretch a little in between tasks to help prevent stiffness and improve your circulation.
SAFETY TIP #4 – USE THE RIGHT TOOLS
If you’re using a rake that is too short for your height, you’ll be forced to bend over excessively and cause yourself some back pain. If you need to bend down frequently, consider purchasing kneepads or a mat.
SAFETY TIP #5 –DRINK WATER
Staying hydrated should always be a priority, and it’s especially important when you’re out in the sun doing physical activity. Have a drink of water at least every 15-20 minutes.
If you feel any pain after a day of gardening, apply ice to the affected area. If you still have discomfort after 24- 48 hours, give us a call to schedule a check-up. Happy Gardening!
Cliff Atwell, B.S., D.C.