Gardening is America’s number one hobby. We all know too well of the aches and pains that can come from our favorite past time! Here are a few tips that can help minimize the stress on your body and keep you healthy.
Protect those Joints:
Use tools with padded handles and easy spring-loaded handles to minimize stiffness in the hands. If you are spending time on your knees, wear kneepads; use a knee cushion or a kneeler seat. These items will cushion the knee joint and reduce pressure.
Conserve your energy:
Think Ahead! Carry all the hand tools you may use in a bucket and your large tools in a cart. This will save you many trips to the shed or garage. Sitting or kneeling on a Kneeler Seat instead of bending over will save your back, hips and legs from tiredness and stress. A Kneeler Seat is a low seat, and turned upside down it’s perfect for kneeling and the handles will help you get back up. They are generally cushioned on both sides for comfort.
Bags of Mulch, Stone and Soils can be awkward and heavy to carry. Try taking them from your vehicle to a garden cart or wheelbarrow. Move it where you need it, cut the bag open lengthwise and dump it. The material will come out of the bag easily. Or you can keep it in the wheelbarrow and shovel it out.
Heavy plants- if you are moving heavy plants or shrubs, try tipping a wheelbarrow forward as close to the plant as you can. Then gently rotate the pot or ball of the plant into the wheelbarrow. Slowly bring the wheelbarrow to a standing position, so as not to bang the plant around. Move it to its destination and reverse the process. If you prepare the hole first, the plant can be easily installed. If it’s in a pot, set it next to the hole and remove the pot, then roll the ball into the hole. B&B plants can be rolled directly into the hole and then cut the burlap. If your plant has nylon burlap it must be removed completely. This process will minimize stress on your lower back and stress on the plant. Plants do not like to have their roots banged around.
If you must lift heavy items, squat down, get a firm grip and lift using your legs, not your Back! Lifting with your leg muscles will give you more lifting power and save you a trip to the Chiropractor. Asking for help is also a smart way to save you from injury. Call ahead to plan for a Family member or Friend to help. A neighbor will usually be happy to lend a quick hand.
One project at a time:
If you want your yard to be picture perfect NOW… hire a professional. If you are willing to be patient and enjoy the fruits of your labor, start small. Prioritize your projects and complete them one at a time. This will keep you from over-doing it. It can also keep your frustration level down. You will be satisfied in having completed a project and it will keep your yard neat and clean. Too many projects started and none finished makes for a messy yard.
Lastly… Listen to your body:
Your body will tell you every time when it’s had enough. Drinking plenty of water will help keep your muscles hydrated and reduce cramping. Water can also reduce the chances of becoming over-heated. When you’re done working in the garden, STRETCH! Stretching will reduce muscle soreness and keep you more flexible. Treat your self to a nice bath or shower and get plenty of rest. Recovery is the key to happy gardening tomorrow!