Spring is upon us which means it’s almost time for yard work and gardening! Many people enjoy being out in the fresh air while getting some exercise in the yard. Injuries with yard work commonly happen because we do not practice safe body mechanics or take enough breaks. There are a few precautions that you can take that will allow you to avoid gardening pain and have a healthy and injury-free spring and summer.

Avoid Gardening Pain With These Safety Tips

Warm Up!

Yard work is exercise and doing a few dynamic warm-up exercises will warm up your muscles and improve elasticity for squatting, kneeling, and negotiating surfaces that are not level.

Pay Attention to Task Duration

Consider how long all the tasks you would like to get done will take and decide if it’s a one-day, two-day, or longer, job list. Spending more than 2-3 hours in the yard in one time chunk is too long.

Use the Appropriate Tools

There are many ergonomic and long handled tools available now that can help alleviate the risk of bending, twisting, and lifting.

Mix It Up

Change the tasks that you are working on frequently. Only weed for 5-10 minutes, then stand up. Do a backwards bend, and move on to another task for a few minutes. This can seem frustrating because you are not getting one task completely finished, but you will be able to stay in the garden for longer and with less pain at the end of the day.

Body Mechanics

  • Your belly button and toes should be facing the same direction at all times, no matter what the task is. If they are not, then your spine is twisting (NOT good!)
  • When squatting down, have wide legs and stick your bottom out behind you, then sink your bottom straight down. Keep your knees behind your toes. Do not bend at your mid- or low-back; this should remain straight like a rod.
  • If you can’t squat down to weed or pick something up due to knee pain or various other reasons, use the half kneeling position (1 knee down on the ground behind you and the front leg knee up and foot on the ground). You can also use a stool. See the videos below.
  • Make multiple trips with carrying debris or tools. Keep your lifting load light.
  • When lifting and carrying objects, have the object as close to your body as possible, if not touching you. Yard would is dirty business! 🙂

In the videos below, Megan Starr, DPT, helps you understand the proper way to kneel and bend down while you are gardening to avoid gardening pain. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us!

Half Kneel Position

Use a Stool