Avoiding Injuries When Gardening

avoid gardening injuries
Photo by Eduardo Prim

Gardening is a very enjoyable activity, as well as good exercise. But sometimes injuries can occur if you don’t take the proper precautions. Weeding, raking, digging and pruning can put a great deal of stress on hands, wrists and your back. Because so many gardening tasks are repetitive and often done for hours at a time, performing them while using improper form can lead to a host of problems for your body. Prevention is key in avoiding gardening injuries such as back pain, tendonitis, and Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.

Tips for avoiding injuries

Warm up!

Before you start your gardening activities, do some light stretching, or take a short walk, to help warm up your muscles. Warmed up muscles can handle stress due to rigorous or repetitive activities much better than stiff muscles can.

Avoid bending over

Constant bending when planting or weeding can be extremely hard on your back. Try kneeling when doing these chores. To make your knees happy, try wearing knee pads, or invest in a garden kneeling bench.  And when lifting something heavy like a bag of soil, lift with your legs and not your back, and carry it close to your body.

Pace yourself

Don’t try to do too much too fast. And alternate tasks often, so you aren’t putting stress on your body by staying in one position for too long. If you keep moving, you won’t overwork specific parts of your body. Take frequent breaks.

Wear gloves

Although mixing soil and planting seeds is a great way to maintain hand and finger strength, always wear gloves. Organisms in the soil can cause an infection if you have an open cut or sore on your hand. Gloves will also help prevent scratches and abrasions.

Use proper tools

Use tools with longer handles to prevent too much bending. Invest in tools that are lighter in weight to help avoid strain in your neck and shoulders. Using tools that are too heavy can quickly tire muscles, forcing you to stop sooner than you had intended.

Use common sense to avoid gardening injuries

Always, always, always wear sunscreen when gardening to avoid the possibility of a bad sunburn or future skin cancer. Apply insect repellent to protect against the irritating bites of insects. And stay hydrated. Take frequent water breaks. For those of you that get into a “zone” when gardening and forget to take a break or drink fluids, set a timer. Every time it goes off take a water break and rest your body for a little while. This will refresh you and give you the energy you need to enjoy longer periods of time working in your garden.

Watch this video about how to dig and shovel without hurting your back.