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Gardening season: tips & tricks for injury prevention

As the tulips and daffodils have been announcing their spring greetings and sunnier days are upon us, many of us are drawn to the garden. For continuing garden beds and new projects underway, there is much planting and pruning to be done. Gardening days can be physically straining to the body, so some essential maintenance can grow a long way. Before getting your fingers dirty, check out our tips!

Tip 1: It is wise to enter your garden with a warm body. Increasing your body temperature with a brisk walk around the block, or marching on the spot can prepare your muscles for lengthening. 

Tip 2: Gardening requires many repetitive movements. Taking a moment to gently stretch the body prior to, during, and after activity can greatly reduce the chance of injury from repetitive strain. This video shows our recommended stretching exercises from head to toe.  

Tip 3: Take a look at your garden tools - do you have the right equipment for the job? When selecting tools you ideally want to be upright, so choose long handles to avoid excessive bending and reaching. Look for tools that have thicker, padded handles to widen spacing for the small joints of the hand. Utilize a wheel barrow, cart, or tarp when moving large amounts of soil. Keep your shears and spades sharp, it will take less force to dig and prune. Use a work bench or table when possible to work at standing height. 

Tip 4: The process is just as important as the outcome. Review how your body is completing your gardening tasks. We suggest using kneeling pads when in garden beds, and alternating hands often. Be mindful that the legs should be doing the bulk of your lifting, squaring your body to the item and using both hands. Best of all, plan ahead! You will prevent oodles of extra lifting and tool transporting if you are organized going in.

Tip 5: Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance! Getting in the garden often for shorter sessions will help your body manage the requirements of the task. Weeding is best done early and frequently as we know many species to get unruly quickly and some are difficult to dig up once they spread.  

Tip 6: Pacing yourself. Take frequent breaks or change your activity from digging to pruning to raking every 10 to 15 minutes. Sip water throughout your session rather than dousing yourself at the end. Listen to your body, it will tell you when you are getting tired. 

Kristen Pothier