It is spring…time to get back into the garden and the sunshine! Time to watch new seedlings grow, pull weeks, and enjoy the outdoors. Unfortunately, it also means time for some aches and pains from the bending, pulling, and lifting. Here are some tips that can help reduce stress on your body.
Bending at the Spine for Extended Time Increases Risk of Injury
Instead of bending over to pull weeks, try this:
Sit on a low seat that allows you to reach the weeds. They make little carts on wheels that can scoot along rows while you weed them.
Reverse The Bend: If you need to bend over, make sure to “reverse the bend” frequently. If you have been bending forward, try bending backward. Joints should not be stretched in just one direction, and you want to move your spine into a gentle backbend after spending some time bending forward.
Kneel, using a kneeling bench can provide cushioning to the knees. Many also have built-in handles to help you rise from the ground. If you don’t have a kneeling bench, try knee pads or just a soft towel to pace on the ground and cushion.
Tips on using Hand Tools
Hand tools make digging, pruning, and planting easier. Make sure all tools are well maintained. If your pruners are dull, you will have to exert more force to cut each branch. A sharp hoe reduces the effort needed to slice through weeds. Rusty trowels are harder to push through dirt. Maintaining your tools will help reduce your risk of injury from overuse.
When you are using tools be sure to:
Break often (every 15 minutes) to stretch out your joints
Stretch fingers and wrists: Open your fingers and extend the wrist to release the muscles that have been gripping the tools
Neck and upper back: Look up to the sky, gently arching your upper back. Feel the stretch in the front of your chest and neck.
With all stretches, do not move into an area of pain. You should feel a gentle stretch through the muscles and joints, not pain.
A trained Physical Therapist can help you develop a thorough exercise and stretching routine that can help you enjoy your garden with a decreased risk of injury.
Come in and see us today!
Written by: Dr. Monika Docteur PT, DPT