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Gardening Safety Tips

TOPIC:

As Americans anxiously await the arrival of spring’s milder temperatures, many are also looking forward to springing back into the garden. Common gardening tasks, such as digging, planting, weeding, mulching and raking can cause stress and strain on muscles and joints.

American Physical Therapy Association recommends the following tips to minimize the risk of injury:

1) 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.

2) 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.

3) Use a garden cart or wheelbarrow to move tools and heavy planting materials.

4) 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.

5) Change positions and take frequent breaks to avoid stiffness or cramping.

6) Start with smaller projects and build gradually. Don’t try to do it all at once.

7) 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.

8) End your gardening session with a short walk or some light stretching. Take a warm bath or shower to help prevent next-day soreness.

EXPERT:
Regina Bowen, OTR/L, CHT,