Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation encourages gardeners to practice safe techniques and avoid knee or back pain
Spring is finally here! For New Jerseyans, few words could possibly sound sweeter.
After one of the harshest winters on record and a final scare at the end of March, the time of the year has finally arrived when we can pack away snow coats and shovels and trade them in for light clothing and the tools for your outdoor activity of choice. For some, this means a rake, hoe and watering can as they eagerly prepare to get their garden going again this year.
While gardening is a great hobby that doubles as exercise, since it is still a physical task, it can also lead to pain. All the stretching, bending and twisting that comes with being a productive gardener puts multiple areas of the body at risk for pain, especially the knees and back.
The knees are a prime target for aches and pains due to extensive bending and kneeling and the back is also vulnerable when certain activities like lifting are performed incorrectly or bad posture is used. In addition, gardening requires many of the same motions to be repeated over long periods of time, which can be particularly stressful to a number of muscle groups.
If you garden and can’t wait to get started this year but don’t want to run into any nagging aches or pains, Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation recommends the following pointers to keep in mind while gardening this spring:
- Use a foam or gel kneel pad and try alternate kneeling on each knee
- Vary your gardening tasks throughout the session so as not to keep repeating the same one for too long, or break it up into smaller tasks
- Try to only use pruners, shovels rakes and other gardening tools that are ergonomically designed with cushioned grips, and avoid tool shortcuts
- When you sit for jobs at ground level, don’t sit cross-legged; flex your body forward and maintain good posture, or use a small chair or stool
- If possible, raise your beds and container platforms to allow you to tend to them at close-to-standing height, which will eliminate bending over
- Stretch both before and after gardening, when muscles are in the cool-down phase, and ice any sore areas before going to bed
- Strengthening exercises can also help prevent the knees and back from the stresses and strain from gardening
For all the gardeners out there who want to keep themselves pain-free this spring, Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation can help with further gardening guidance or a basic stretching program to keep you flexible. Visit us at any of our three locations in Woodbridge, Union or Edison, NJ, or call 732-494-0895 to schedule an appointment.