Avoid sprains, pains, and strains in the garden

Gardening isn’t necessarily a “gentle” hobby. You can burn more than 500 calories an hour doing yard work like digging dirt and moving rocks. Even mowing the lawn can burn more than 300 calories an hour, assuming it’s not a riding lawnmower. And while all that activity can be great for improving your overall fitness, it also can lead to some serious muscle strain.

Think of pulling weeds and raking leaves like any traditional workout and treat your body accordingly. Before you start, take a few moments to warm up with stretches, arm circles, gentle squats, and lunges.

And while you’re gardening, be purposeful about taking breaks to avoid over-exertion. Pushing yourself too fast or too hard can lead to missteps and injuries.

More tips to prevent garden strains and sprains:

  • Change it up. Switch tasks to prevent repetitive motion injuries. When raking or shoveling, for example, switch from one hand to the other to balance the impact on your muscles.
  • Bend at the hips and knees. This will help you avoid using your back muscles when doing heavy work. 
  • Use a wagon or wheelbarrow. Spare your body when transporting shrubbery or rocks.
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects by yourself.
  • Wear proper footwear. Save the flip flops for your garden party. Wear firm soled shoes with closed toes and ankle support when working in the garden.
  • Keep your tetanus vaccination up-to-date. The bacteria that causes tetanus lives in soil and manure and can enter your body through any tiny nicks and cuts.
  • Stop if it hurts. There’s no glory in working through the pain. Continuous aggravation of a strained muscle can lead to permanent damage and chronic pain.

And before you even pick up a shovel, remember that the most important safety tip is to know the location of underground utility lines. Always contact Diggers Hotline or a similar service in your area before you plant a tree or shrub or do any new digging in your yard. It will help you avoid an even bigger “pain.”

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