Gardening is a great way to stay active and have fun in the sun. But many Canadians sustain injuries that can be easily prevented with a little know-how.
The Right Tools
Using longer handled tools makes work easier and lessens the load on the back. Look for long handled spades and weed remover tools for pesky dandelions. Long levers make for lighter work just like using a broom handle to extend a paint roller.
The Right Moves
Use the right moves to lighten the load on your back. Kneel, don’t bend, to plant. Change your body position often. Working at waist height is safest, so plant small pots on a picnic table or planter bench. Alternate between light and heavy chores. After bending down in the garden for a while, straighten up slowly and take a few minute rest break before lifting heavy items. And most importantly, loosen-up before you start.
Before you begin any physical activity, warming up is a key factor in preventing injury. Take a walk, even on the spot. Ten to 15 minutes should do it. Don’t forget to lift your knees and gently swing your arms.
Stretch Before You Start
To plant and rake without the ache, do each of these stretches five times. Don’t bounce, jerk or strain. Stretches should be gentle and should not cause pain.
Your Sides: Extend your right arm over your head. Bend to the left from the waist. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Your Arms and Shoulders: Hug yourself snugly. Slowly rotate at the waist as far as is comfortable to the left, then to the right.
Your Back: In a seated position, bend forward from the hips, keeping your head down. Reach for the ground.
Your Thighs: Face a wall or tree and support yourself against it with one arm.Bend your right knee and grasp your ankle or pant leg with your left hand. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Your Hamstrings: Stand. Reach your hands to the sky. Then bend at the waist and reach toward your toes, with a slight bend in the knees. Hold for 15 seconds.
And remember to take frequent breaks, drink lots of water and protect your skin.