Plant without Pain - Safe Gardening and Yard Clean-Up

Shanda McNew - PRO PT

As warmer, spring weather energizes us, we turn our thoughts to playing in the dirt! For many of us, yard work and gardening are forms of relaxation and enjoyment. But a sudden return to manual labor after a winter hiatus can mean aches, pains and injuries. Know how to keep yourself healthy and injury-free while working outside following these tips.


       Warm up before you dig in. Just a few minutes of light walking or stretching will get your muscles ready for increased activity demands.

       Wear gloves and keep your arms covered. Not only will you prevent blistering, but youíll be better protected from poison ivy, insect bites, and cuts or abrasions that could lead to infection.

       Maintain good body positions. When you pick up leaves, bend from the knees, not the waist. When weeding or planting, assume a kneeling position or sit on a small stool rather than bending forward.

       Avoid awkward, repetitive motions. Tools should fit your hand size, height, and strength. Maintain a light grasp and alternate hands for tasks like scooping dirt and raking. Use both hands for heavy activities like lifting potting soil or carrying leaf bags. Carry close to your body, not over your shoulder. Donít overfill buckets or garbage bags; make multiple trips instead.

       Take frequent rest breaks and switch between activities to prevent overuse injuries and fatigue. Break up repetitive motion tasks, such as digging and gripping, into short sessions and change your position often to prevent muscle pains and cramps.

       Be aware of uneven ground, slopes, and obstacles such as low branches, tree roots, holes, rocks, or loose soil. Wear shoes with good traction; wet leaves, loose dirt, and mud can cause you to slip and fall.