Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation in Edison offers these tips for gardening safely
You’ve been patiently waiting for many cold months and the time has finally come for you to get back to your garden and bring it up to speed. If you’re one of about 40 million households that tend a garden, you’ve probably been eager to get your hands dirty and update your garden for quite a while. At Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation, we believe all that energy is a good thing and that gardening is a fantastic hobby, but we want you to be careful about certain habits that can lead to pain or injury.
The best quality about gardening is that it’s much more than just a hobby that allows you to display your green thumb skills. It’s also considered a form of physical activity, and spending numerous hours each week on your garden can be beneficial for your health. Unfortunately, the downside is that while it may seem like a completely harmless activity, gardening actually comes with certain risks and has the potential to be damaging to your body since it can be a demanding physical task at times./
The two parts of the body that are most at risk from gardening are the knees and the back, and much of this has to do with the fact that about 80-90% of gardening movements are performed in a bent position. All this bending and kneeling, which is also required for many gardening techniques, can lead to aches and pains developing in the knees. In addition, bending forward for too long can reverse the spine’s natural curvature and strain muscles and ligaments in the back. Add the repetitive twisting that’s also a part of gardening and the fact that many of these motions are performed repeatedly for a long period of time, and you’ve got a recipe for knee or back pain./
This risk for pain or injury shouldn’t serve as a reason to hold off on your gardening this year. All it means is you should be aware of the risk and make some minor adjustments to your form and habits so you can continue enjoying your garden without the hassle of pain. Here are some exercises and tips to follow the next time you tend to your garden:
- Warm up with a short, brisk walk and stretch before beginning; hold each of the following stretches for 10 seconds and repeat them three times
- Bend forward and reach for your toes until you feel a stretch in the back of your legs and lower back
- Raise clasped hands overhead, lean to one side until you feel stretch in side of trunk, hold, and then repeat on other side
- Place hands on hips and lean back until you feel stretch in lower back
- Never bend and twist your back at the same time
- Take frequent breaks and perform more back bends during this time
- Change positions regularly and be aware of how your body feels; if you notice any region of the body getting sore, switch over to another task
- Try using a stool and/or a knee pad to alleviate pressure on your knees; it also helps to alternate from one knee to another regularly
- Use good body mechanics when picking up or pulling items; bend your knees, tighten your abs and keep your back straight during these tasks
All it takes is a little additional effort and awareness for you to get the full enjoyment out of your gardening without dealing with injury. If you do experience any aches or pains from gardening or other activities, Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation in Edison, Union, Somerville and Woodbridge, NJ can help. Call us at 908-393-9877 for more information or to schedule an appointment.