Gardening, like most other forms of yard work, is exercise! The mistake many people make is starting to do yard work and gardening without warming up first and not knowing your limits. Have you ever heard of the term, "weekend warrior"? These are people that do excessive amounts of work around the house/play sports sporadically, without properly warming up, stretching, cooling down, with improper ergonomics, or continue to work through the pain, and then are in a great deal of pain by the time Monday comes along.
Gardening is a fun way to get outdoors and stay active without going to the gym. Raking and carrying leaves is a great way to build endurance and strength, while pulling weeds and other tasks can help to maintain and improve flexibility. Gardening is not only good for the body physically, but also mentally. Getting outside to garden is a great way to de-stress from work, technology and other things that complicate life.
Gardening/Yard Work injuries can include traumatic injuries. Commonly from improper tool use and repetitive stress injuries (RSI) from repetitive work, many times due to improper form.
Common Repetitive Stress Injuries:
- Back injuries from heavy lifting
- Hands/arms/shoulder pain
- Knee pain
- Warm up/Stretch BEFORE
- Use a wheelbarrow/cart/friend to help carry heavy loads or make frequent trips if working alone
- Lift with your hips, not your back
- Alternate sides when raking, hoeing, etc.
- Know your limits
- Take frequent breaks
- Pace yourself
- Stay hydrated
- Don't work through pain
- Use long-handled tools to avoid kneeling, bending, or squatting
- Alternate tasks in the garden/yard (kneeling work for 20 minutes, standing work for 20, etc.)
- Cool down post gardening
- Never bend and twist; always "square up" your hips and shoulders
- Don't sit/lay down for extended periods post yard work. Warm muscles are pliable and will mold to whatever position you cool down in; ie: a chair
To minimize injury
- Foam tubing for garden tools
- Dig weeds from a standing position (various alternatives available online)
- Use long handed tools
- Use the right size tool for you; smaller hands need smaller tools
- Choose lightweight tools whenever possible
- Stop working immediately if you think you injured yourself, don't continue to work!
- Seek chiropractic treatment to address any muscular or joint pain; the sooner after injury, the better
- A chiropractor can also suggest different ways to modify your positioning, specific to your injury and activity
- Avoid laying on the couch/bed for prolonged periods after intense work/possibly injury