TIPS FOR SAFE GARDENING
“Spring is the time of plans and projects” – Leo Tolstoy
No matter how long the winter was, spring was sure to follow. As the weather changes, many of us are sure to trade in our large winter coats for some spring jackets, spring cleaning and best of all spring gardening! The flowers and weeds are coming out to play and so are we. Gardening can be quite an invigorating and stimulating activity that has numerous health benefits; however it is important to keep in mind some safety tips, in order to prevent injury to our joints, spine and knees.
Here are some of our physiotherapist’s top recommendations when gardening:
1Timing is everything! If you are prone to soreness and stiffness in the morning especially if you have arthritis, then save your gardening for later hours of the day. Always listen to your body.
2Always use support to get yourself in the right position. When you need to lower yourself to the ground or lift yourself off the ground, it is a good idea to use a ledge or a chair to help brace yourself against the impact of kneeling or going from your knees to a standing position.
3Posture is key to maintaining a healthy spine. The ideal posture when gardening should be with your shoulder blades squeezed, with your lower back slightly arched and your chin tucked in. Poor posture can cause tension in your muscles that leads to pain. Marinating good posture will keep your muscles and joints more stable.
4Keep it moving! Remember to change position from time to time, in order to avoid putting a strain on your joints and muscles. Always remember to alternate positions, if you have been kneeling make your next gardening activity a standing or moving one. And don’t forget to stretch after being in the same position for extended periods of time.
5Lifting is more complicated than you think. Remember to bend at your hips and knees and squat down when you are about to lift heavy objects. Try to hold the object close to your body; your posture should have your feet shoulder width apart. And once you are carrying the weight, do not twist your body.
6A stretch a day keeps the physiotherapist away. Gardening requires a lot of joint and back strength. In order to protect your joints and back it is important to condition your muscles, through stretching and strengthening exercises. Consult with your physiotherapist for some of the most effective stretches and exercises before engaging in any strenuous activities.
7Know when to see your physiotherapist. If you injure yourself during your gardening activities some signs to look out for are; experiencing prolonged and constant severe pain for more than 3 days, moving differently from your usual gait and that the pain can be reproduced by specific actions or movements. If you experience any of these symptoms, consult a physiotherapist to avoid further aggravating your injuries.
“Where flowers bloom, so does hope” – Lady Bird Johnson
Have a safe and enjoyable gardening experience!
Yasaman Razavi DPT, BSc