Gardening is a strenuous activity and it is very easy for people to overdo it. Common gardening tasks, such as digging, planting, weeding, mulching and raking can cause stress and strain on muscles and joints, especially following the more sedentary winter months. The shoulders, back, neck and knees are prime targets.
Following these tips from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) can help you minimize the risk of injury:
- Warm up before you begin. Get your heart rate up by taking a 10-minute walk followed by some stretches for your upper and lower back, neck, arms and legs. Roll your shoulders back in a circular motion and slowly move your head from side to side a few times to loosen up.
- Don’t overdo it. Be mindful of how your body feels. If you experience an aching back or neck, then slow down and stretch or stop and switch to a different task.
- Use a garden cart or wheelbarrow to move tools and heavy planting materials
- Don’t kneel on both knees. Keep one foot on the ground to give your back more stability. If you have to kneel, use knee pads or a pillow to absorb some of the pressure.
- Change positions and take frequent breaks to avoid stiffness or cramping.
- Start with smaller projects and build gradually. Don’t try to do it all at once.
- Practice proper body mechanics. Bend at your knees when you grab something or pull a weed, bend your knees and contract your abdominal muscles to avoid straining your back.
- End your gardening session with a short walk or some light stretching. Take a warm bath or shower to help prevent next-day soreness.
- If you experience pain, contact your physical therapist.
How a Physical Therapist Can Help
As an expert in the way the body moves, a physical therapist helps restore and improve mobility and motion. The physical therapists at Fox Valley Physical Therapy and Wellness can help educate you in ways to improve you flexibility, strength, and body mechanics to keep you outside and enjoying your garden.
If you have questions, please call (630) 549-0511 to schedule an appointment today.
Information created by the American Physical Therapy Association.
Posted on: April 24, 2014 | Rehab