Dr. Steven Scappaticci, B.Sc. (Hons.), CSCS, DC, FRCms
With April shower’s comes those May flowers! It’s also the time of year to till gardens, lay sod, pick weeds, aerate the lawn…the list of gardening tasks almost never ends. And before you know it its time to rake leaves again! But lets not get too ahead of ourselves here.
Gardening is a tricky task. It requires us to repetitively bend, crouch, squat, lift, twist and hold certain positions for a while. The issue is that when we get back into the gardening routine, we’re often getting out of our winter routine – a routine that may have left us a little more sedentary than we’d like!
Gardening isn’t the high profile sport you often watch on TV but it does come with many physical demands just like sports do! Strength, flexibility, and mobility are all required for even the simplest of tasks. What compounds things even more is the presence of certain medical conditions that may make it difficult to garden. This should not scare anyone away from gardening; rather it should just make them take more precaution.
So what are some tips for gardening safely you may be asking? Well for starters (and in no particular order of importance):
1. CHANGE POSITIONS OFTEN
There may be no perfect posture or position for gardening so why not change things up? Changing your positioning often can really help to give some relief to certain areas of your body. Whether it’s seated, standing, crouching, kneeling…etc. be sure to change up your positioning every 15 min at least!
2. RAISED GARDENS/PLANTERS
This is becoming a popular approach to gardening. Smaller, contained, and raised gardens/planters are a great way to prevent aches and pains! Having the garden off the ground and closer to you can help from bending over to reach the ground and putting your back at risk for injury. For those with a smaller yard or the interest in only maintaining a small garden, this tip is for you!
3. LIFT WITH YOUR LEGS
Who hasn’t heard this one before? Save your back and lift with your legs! A tip for more than just gardening but a key tip when it comes time to haul bags of dirt across the yard.
4. USE WHEELS
These things are made for a reason! Wheels on trolleys/carts, & wheelbarrows make life so much easier! Why physically carry dirt, pots, or even tools from the front to the backyard when you can use a wheelbarrow? Just be careful how heavy you load them. Always best to keep them light! Similarly, you can consider lighter tools, perhaps something with a plastic handle versus a heavy wood or metal one.
5. GARDEN WITH OTHERS
Two’s company & three may be a crowd but not when it comes to gardening. Garden with others to share the workload! Whether it be your spouse/partner or even your kids, allow others to help & lift the heavy objects for you!
Perhaps more important than any aforementioned tips is to be active all year round. This may sound super obvious but to many its not. Someone may cycle in the spring, summer, and fall but do nothing in the winter. Why not pick up a recreational activity in the “off-season” to make it not so hard on our bodies when we get back into an old routine.
Do you have any questions? Contact me and let’s chat. Happy Gardening!
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