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Tips for Pain Free Gardening and Yard Work

May 25, 2016

Posted by: Craig Turner

General Manager, Fit For Play Physical Therapy & Fitness Center

Treat it like a workout

Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the summer season. For many it’s a chance to get out and be active for the first time in months. Whether you love it or just want to get it done, gardening/yard work is one of the activities that many people start with. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), it is important that people participating in gardening/yard work take a health conscious approach to both prevent injuries and reap the health rewards of gardening.

Advice from Craig Turner, General Manager Fit For Play

“Gardening and yard work can be strenuous activity and it’s very easy to do too much, especially for seniors and people that have been inactive for long periods of time. To best prevent injuries, people should view gardening and yard work as a workout. Just stop for a moment and think about what you are doing. Digging, weeding, raking, mulching, planting, these are all activities that require many of the most commonly injured muscles and joints including the low back, neck, shoulders and knees.

Take a smart approach and get out there and get to work. The exercise is great for your body and it’s very rewarding to step back and look at your accomplishments. Just make sure to take a reasonable pace, drink plenty of water, and take breaks when needed.”

Tips to minimize risks of injury:

  • Warm Up before you begin. Take a short walk, and move your shoulders, neck, and trunk to loosen up.
  • Don’t overdo it. Listen to your body and always pay attention to how you are feeling. If something starts to ache, stop and try stretching it out, or better yet switch to a different task. When in doubt stop the activity and take a break.
  • Start small and build. Complete small projects first and work up to the big stuff.
  • Use proper technique. Bend at the knees and lift with your legs to move heavy objects or pull weeds to avoid common back injuries. Kneel on one knee at a time and keep one foot on the ground when possible for best stability.
  • Use the right tools. Use wheelbarrows and carts to move around large heavy objects. Use pads for your knees if you have to kneel.
  • Mix it up. Avoid long periods of the same activity or take frequent breaks to avoid cramping, stiffness, and overuse.
  • Stay hydrated. Get plenty of fluids (preferably water).
  • Cool down and stretch out. End your gardening session with a short walk and/or some light stretching.

Something Holding You Back?

Experiencing issues that are keeping you from getting out and moving? Try a FREE INJURY SCREEN with one of our physical therapists to see what we can do to get you back to your normal activities.

Category: Physical Therapy

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