Gardening is one of the most rewarding activities you can participate in this summer. You spend a few days in the sun, while getting some exercise, and then you get to see your hard work pay off through beautiful blooming flowers or delicious fruits and veggies. What could possibly go wrong?! Well, unfortunately, gardening injuries are more common than you may think.
It’s a common misconception that, as physical therapists, the only injuries we treat are those suffered by runners and other athletes. While it’s true that we do treat those injuries quite often, a large portion of injuries are results of common day-to-day tasks, such as gardening.
Before you head outside to start pulling weeds and planting seeds, be aware of these common gardening injuries and how to avoid them.
Common Gardening Injuries
Upper & Lower Back Pain
Due to the posture that is commonly held for long periods of time, there can be a strain on your spine and back muscles during gardening. Additionally, certain motions (such as twisting your body to reach a gardening tool or pulling on a stubborn weed) can add excess pressure. Some ways to avoid this:
- Warm-up before you begin gardening. Some dynamic stretching may prove to be helpful.
- Pay attention to the duration of your task. If you find yourself in the same position for too long, switch it up and come back to that area later. Every 10-15 minutes, reverse your posture.
- Avoid twisting your spine at all times. Try to make sure your shoulders, belly button, and knees are always facing the same direction.
- Try not to bend at your mid- or low-back; keep these areas very straight.
After a day of gardening, you may notice soreness in your shoulders and shoulder blade regions. Due to how much you are doing with your arms during gardening, it can cause pain and irritation. To ease this discomfort, try switching up your tasks frequently. Also, invest in nice gardening equipment and tools that will do more of the work for you. The less tugging, chopping, twisting, and digging you have to do, the better!
Gardening requires you to get up close and personal with Mother Nature. This is bad news for your knees if you’re putting too much pressure on them. Repetitive strain on your knees can cause pain and swelling. As mentioned before, changing up tasks and positions frequently is helpful. You can also use knee-pads or a stool to help relieve the pressure on your knees.
Although it’s our job to focus on your muscles and joints, we always recommend wearing sunscreen! You can get a sunburn in a matter of minutes, so make it a priority to protect yourself with a high-SPF sunscreen.
Keep this in mind: jumping into hours of physical activity after being inactive can put a lot of strain on your body. As with all exercise, we recommend easing into it in order to avoid injuries. Start with 15-30 minutes of gardening and slowly work your way up to a longer duration.
Although we love seeing our patients, we don’t like hearing about new injuries! 😉
Click here for more garden safety tips and video demonstrations.