PT Tip of the Month Archive

Gardening

Now that summer is here, more of us will be spending time in our gardens planting and weeding. While gardening is usually viewed as a relaxing and enjoyable pastime, there can be a downside to the hobby, namely the injuries that may occur as a result of the increased activity. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are about 400,000 ER visits per year as a result of gardening related activities, which can include injuries ranging from sunburn and repetitive stress injuries, all the way to cuts and finger amputations. Luckily there are steps that can be taken to help avoid this fate and remain injury free.

A first step toward avoid those gardening related aches and pains is a good warm up. Take a short walk around the block or in the yard to loosen your muscles and get your blood flowing. After the walk, take the time to do a few good stretches to prepare the body for the various postures and positions that will be required for gardening. These stretches could include hamstring, calf, quad, and shoulder stretches.

Low back pain (LBP) is one of the more common complaints associated with gardening. One of the most important ways to prevent LBP is to avoid repeated bending or stooping. When possible, you should get closer to the ground by using a bench. You also should use a pad under your knees when kneeling on the ground. Additionally, consider planting a raised garden bed in order to bring the work closer to you. Also be sure to use tools that are the proper length for the job. Using a rake or shovel that is too short will require the lower back to stay in a flexed, painful position.

Another good tip to avoid injury is to avoid repetitive activity with your arms, including raking, weeding, digging, or sweeping. Repetitive motion can lead to an increased risk of shoulder, elbow, or low back pain. While doing any of these activities, it is a good idea to switch hands frequently and to take frequent breaks. At most you should only be doing any one activity for an hour.

Muscle and joint pain are not the only dangers of gardening; the sun, bugs, and poison ivy can also be problematic. Therefore, it is also important to wear sunblock, stay hydrated and wear a hat and long sleeves. Finally, also be sure to exercise caution when using sharp tools.

Follow these simple tips, and gardening will be a fun summer activity instead of a dreaded summer nightmare. If you are already in pain after the spring clean up of your garden, or feel like you need more direction with stretching, strengthening, or ergonomics, and you would like to schedule an evaluation, please call 617-232-PAIN for our Brookline office and 617-325-PAIN for our West Roxbury office.

33 Pond Avenue, Suite 107B Brookline, MA 02445 Tel: (617) 232-PAIN (7246) Fax: (617) 232-5196
1208B VFW Parkway, Suite 202 West Roxbury, MA 02132 Tel: (617) 325-PAIN (7246) Fax: (617) 325-7282