Tips on gardening, to prevent injuries
Hey green fingers…tips on going from long winters to spring cleaning in your garden.
1) I strongly suggest you take a walk or two around your property before your start hauling heavy loads of mulch or soil (or some jumping jacks for the brave). Remember, those muscles have likely not done much movement this winter. When we do a small warm up, this will help blood flow to the muscle groups. When a muscle is warmed up, there is likely less chance of injury.
2) Plan out your jobs, just as you would plan out your work week, weekly calendar of errands and running kids here there and everywhere. Why not plan out your weekend of what needs to be done in the garden. This will help break it up, like my analogy of warming up the muscles you are also warming up your body to the idea of heavy work. The idea is to do small chunks of time, over the period of the day. Just as you have been told a million times, set a time at your desk to remind you to get up and move every hour. I would suggest the same idea, except this time we are stopping to sit down and take a few deep breaths. Don’t worry, you will still get it done.
3) The cliche saying “less is more” yup, that’s right, if you try to carry ALL the mulch in one load, you are risking lower back discomfort. It’s better to split up the loads, yes, it may mean back and forth a few times; but it’s just burning more calories. The lighter the loads the less likely you will overdo it and strain a muscle or two.
4) You are likely going to be bending down over flower beds, hanging baskets or vegetable gardens all day long, so my tip is, take a small light step stool along with you so you can sit in a more comfortable position while working. This will eliminate some of the strain on your lower back, and saving your poor knees from being banged up and scratched from kneeling on the hard ground.
5) BEND YOUR KNEES, please please please, don’t forget to bend your knees when lifting anything but more importantly heavy objects. This I promise you will save your back; your wife having to help you out of the fetal position. If you bend forward without bending your knees, you are placing added strain to your back, hips and knees. Bending down as if you are going to sit back in a chair, then pushing up through your heels as you rise up, is by far the safest way to lift OR if you really can’t move the object by yourself, no one will judge you if you ask for a second pair of hands.
6) Now that we have given your garden some TLC, why don’t we repay our bodies for all their hard work, no..i don’t mean a beer, cocktail or a glass of wine (just yet). Stretching, will help relieve the tension build up. The muscles most involved are the legs(quadriceps/hamstrings), lower leg (calves) gluteas (piriformis) and lower back, if you stretch out these muscles you will prevent delayed muscle soreness. Simply laying on the floor with your knees at 90 degree on the couch will stretch out the lower back. You should always aim to hold each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times. Epsom salt bath would be another great alternative for a long, hard days of work. Soaking in the tub for 10-20 minutes with 1-2 cups of epsom salts is bound to make your muscles feel better.