It's that time of year! Gardening can be a great way to kick off the summer, relax and enjoy the great outdoors! However it can also lead to back pain and injuries if precautions are not taken. Who has time for that?
Here are some ways how to prevent injury and still enjoy your garden:
Warm up before you start: Gardening is a physical activity so it is important that you warm up your muscles before you begin. Most people do not think of household “chores” as exercise so they typically do not think it is important to warm up before. Think about it, when was the last time you gardened? Maybe last year? So it is important you give your body and heads and stretch before you dig in! Take a few minutes to stretch your arms, legs, back and core.
Use proper tools: Like most jobs, proper tools can be a game changer. Make sure you have the right tools for the job. Tools with longer handles allow for better leverage and prevent you from having to lift and toque your body as much. Tools can also help you avoid so much bending and repetitive strain and stress to your body. Make sure you are not over twisting and you are lifting properly so you do not cause a lower back injury. use cushion or kneeler pads to protect your knees and back.
Timing: this one seems obvious but maybe not. Do not start your project in the hottest part of the day. Check the weather and time at the start of your project, maybe early morning before the hot sun comes and while the ground is still soft?
Take breaks: Gardening is a marathon not a sprint. So take frequent breaks to rest. Stretch while you are resting to keep your muscles loose and happy. Gardening can be stressful to the heart, and while a little pump is ok it is important to give you heart breaks and rest time so you do not over do it, especially if it is hot out. Which brings me to my next point
Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, keep your muscles loose and to avoid muscle cramps and dehydration. If you start to feel fatigued, dizzy or tired it is definitely time to take a break and drink some water with electrolytes.
Wear proper protection: Make sure you wear a hat, your favorite natural sunscreen and maybe a long sleeve shirt if you plant to be out for awhile. While your body needs vitamin D, it does NOT need a sunburn!
Gardening is a great activity that promotes people getting off the electronics and outside however it is important to not over do it. Remember to take breaks when your body tells you, stay hydrated and warm up before you create something beautiful.