Spring is upon us, and Canadians are prepping their gardens for planting. If you have a garden, you know that taking care of it is a whole-season job that can be hard on the back. Before you get your hands dirty this year, here are tips from the Ontario Physiotherapy Association on gardening safely and preventing injury.
Stretch It is important to properly stretch before, during and after any physical activity, and that includes gardening. When you’re doing repetitive movements and constantly bending forward, stretching often will help to relieve tension and keep your muscles flexible.
Move Making a point to move and be active throughout the year will strengthen muscles and make it easier to do gardening tasks. Keep in mind to watch your posture and use your legs (not your back) for heavy lifting. Try not to reach too far forward when gardening. Reduce strain on your back by moving your feet to turn your body rather than twisting.
Add it up Getting at least an hour of physical activity a day will help to increase your mobility and strength. Plan and pace activities throughout the day to get yourself up and moving.
Reduce strain Doing any physical activity puts some strain on the body. Types of bad strain include repetitive movements and lifting loads that are heavier than what you are accustomed to. A great tip is to rotate your tasks so that one muscle group doesn’t get overworked. For example, you could alternate between weeding flowerbeds and pruning shrubs.
Use proper tools and be mindful of your posture as you garden. Make sure the handles of tools fit comfortably in your hand (they are sometimes too big). Try not to grip tools too tightly.
Talk to a physiotherapist
A physiotherapist will give you stretches and exercises to help relieve strain on your muscles and joints. He or she can also treat any pain issues and give feedback about your posture. Most injuries that occur when gardening can be prevented by talking to your physiotherapist.
Enjoy the fresh air this spring as you tackle your garden, and keep these S.M.A.R.T. tips in mind to stay safe and pain-free while keeping active.
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