• 7 Tips for Pain-Free Gardening

    June 15, 2015 | By Tony Yong

    How to work on your garden or yard without injury

    Moving wheelbarrows, pushing a mower or carrying heavy bags or tools without proper technique can quickly exhaust your back. Plan your gardening activities in advance to space everything out and begin with a light stretch or warm up. Here are some tips to get through it all while protecting your spine.

    Alternate between light and heavy jobs by switching up activities and changing positions every 10 minutes or so, you give your back time to rest.

    Avoid prolonged, repetitive activities, for example constant pruning or clipping with shears. This can cause tendonitis of the wrist or elbow, or put strain on the neck as you look up for extended periods. Use a ladder to bring work to eye-height and take frequent breaks.

    -Avoid lifting heavy objects immediately after prolonged bending and kneeling. This could fatigue the muscles and lead to injuries. Rest a little or get someone to help.

    -Kneel on a mat or use kneepads to plant and weed – don’t bend down from your hips. Try sitting on a bucket if you have knee or hip pain. This will avoid putting pressure onto those areas. Remember to get close to your yard work or try using a long-handled hoe.

    Use your feet to move around when shovelling instead of rotating your spine. Only lift small amounts at a time and use a long-handled spade.

    -Pushing is always preferable to pulling.

    -If possible, elevate your flower beds and containers to a comfortable height. This prevents stretching, bending and twisting when you need to work in them. Maintain gardening tools and equipment, and consider getting cushioned handles, wheelbarrows that turn more easily or tools that are lighter and longer handled. Correct tools correctly maintained can make literally back-breaking work much more manageable.

    A little attention to form and some support for your hardest working joints and muscles can go a long way in preventing nagging or even dangerous injuries. Good lifting, squatting and carrying technique can keep your back safe and happy, so you can enjoy doing what you love.