Yard work and gardening can be hard work, but it doesn’t have to result injury. As you are gearing up for the spring and summer growing season it’s important to remember the following tips and tricks to help prevent unnecessary aches and pains.
1. While working in your garden try to avoid standing up and bending forward to work at ground level. Either squat down by bending at the knee and hips keeping your back straight, or you can utilize some helpful tools. You can find gardening stools (or any small stool) or cushions that are lightweight and easy to maneuver to different places in your garden. You can then kneel or sit down while you work to reduce the load on your low back.
2. When pulling weeds follow the advice in tip #1, trying to avoid bending forward if able. For tough to pull weeds utilize a weeder to get down at the root and limiting having to use your back or arms to pull it from the ground.
3. Don’t over do it! When mulching or planting large flats take smaller trips if
necessary. Don’t try to push a wheelbarrow that is over full or too heavy around the yard or garden. Break the task in to more manageable amounts to prevent over straining your muscles.
4. When trimming or working with tools with your arms above shoulder level remember to squeeze your shoulder blades together and use the larger muscles in your back to support your arms. Take frequent breaks to prevent an over use injury of your shoulder
5. When digging or tilling, use your legs to lift or move dirt. Bend at the hips and knees, back straight, core engaged, and push through your legs rather than lifting through your back. Try to keep the weight of the dirt close to your body to reduce the strain on your lower back.
6. It’s very important to remember to stay hydrated before, during, and after working outside in your garden, especially if the weather is warm. Labor-intensive yard work burns calories, and makes you sweat, which can deplete your electrolytes. Maintaining your hydration can prevent muscle cramping and reduce muscle soreness in the days following your hard work.
If you have unfortunately already found yourself suffering from a sore back, shoulder, knees, or any other body part due to working in your yard or garden, come in for a consult from a physical therapist at one of our 8 locations. A physical therapist will be able to determine how to help relieve you of your symptoms and assess your body mechanics during gardening tasks to prevent future re-injury, and get you back out in your garden doing what you love.
PTW’s April Phillips, PT, DPT is a staff physical therapist at our West Norriton clinic. For an initial evaluation, call Steph at 610-630-0101 today!