Spring is here – also known as the happiest time of year for avid gardeners. When it comes to gardening,  most people don’t usually think of it as being a very physical or strenuous activity, but it actually has the potential to cause minor to serious muscle strains in the shoulders, knees, lower back, and arms. This is why it is so important to be mindful of the risks by taking certain precautions and being well prepared before you begin.

As with all types of physical activity and exercise, it is very important to stretch before, during, and after your gardening sessions.  Stretching will help you move easier, keep your muscles relaxed and more flexible, keep your joints mobile, and also help relieve muscle tension and strain.  Be sure to keep your movements slow and controlled with gentle stretches.  If your stretching becomes painful, you are overexerting yourself.

It is also a great idea to circle your shoulders, touch your toes, and do some toe and heel lifts. If you start to stiffen up at any time while you are gardening, take a quick break and do some more stretches.

In addition to stretching, here is a list of things you can do and be aware of to keep you healthy throughout the gardening season:

  • Maintain a comfortable posture to keep back pain to a minimum.
  • Stay close enough to the area in which you are working so that you don’t have to reach too far and risk straining or twisting your muscles.
  • Always lift with bent knees – your back should always be kept straight.
    Don’t force yourself to lift more than you can safely handle.
  • Take breaks – there is no need to rush! Gardening should be enjoyed as a fun hobby that you can take your time with, so pace yourself.
  • Use gardening tools with good grips and padded handles.
  • Always keep your tools sharp so that you can cut with ease. Well sharpened tools will also help to prevent slipping.
  • Use tools made from tubular steel instead of wood because they are more lightweight and are easier to work with.
  • Invest in ergonomic rakes, hoes, and other tools that have long handles to reduce strain on your back.
  • Squat or sit on the ground to trowel.
  • Use a foam pad or knee pads to kneel on kneeling instead of always bending from the waist.
  • Use a cart or a wheelbarrow to move your supplies around.
  • Wear a gardening apron that has pockets to keep your tools close at hand.
  • Protect your hands and joints with gardening gloves.

Located in the Vancouver area?

Have you suffered an injury that is preventing you from getting out in the garden this year?  One of our Vancouver physiotherapists can help return you to your normal activity so that you don’t have to miss out!  Give us a call to book an appointment today: 604-266-3303