Gardening is my springtime passion! The weather is just starting to warm up and usually the pansies are bursting out of their hanging baskets. The challenge is to avoid becoming injured due to the "gardener weekend warrior" mentality.
First of all, be practical when planning your planting, weeding, and mulching schedule. Make time for periodic breaks throughout your day and plan the work over a few days or weeks if needed. Wear sturdy shoes and appropriate gloves.
Next, while gardening, do not remain in a sustained position for a long time. That is when you can stress your body and joints and not even realize it. A couple of weeks ago someone in my yoga class, who is extremely flexible, told me she sat cross legged while weeding for thirty minutes and "threw out" her back. Ideally, a person should change their position every few minutes. When reaching down bend with your knees a little more than you think you need. If kneeling on both knees you can change to a single knee for variation and consider using a knee pad for comfort. Avoid twisting and turn your whole body in the direction you are placing something. Gardeners should stand up and walk around and stretch every few minutes.
In addition, don't overuse your dominant arm. Alternate weed pulling and carrying tools with both arms. Also, drink plenty of fluids, especially when you're working out in the heat. Take a break during the warmest time of the day.
And finally, stand back and enjoy all your hard work!
However, if you happen to have some lingering discomfort or have stressed your back, neck, arms or legs from gardening, give the physical therapists at Willow Grove Physical Therapy (WGPT) a call! Our physical therapists are experts in diagnosing and treating movement, overuse and repetitive strain issues. We will complete a thorough exam and design a personalized program to relieve your symptoms and eliminate discomfort. The physical therapy team at WGPT wants help you to have a successful gardening season and remain a happy gardener!
Anne Haneman, PT, passionate gardener