Gardening – How It Affects Our Body

By Michelle Witterick (Look for her at the reception on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays)

It’s spring and the lure of getting back in the garden is irresistible.

Invigorated by all that balmy fresh air, you spend the first sunny day digging, planting, lifting and hauling.  The next morning, you pay.  Your thighs quiver.  Your back tightens with every step.

Let your legs and arms do the work instead of your back when you take on those gardening activities.  If you take the necessary precautions, aches and pains and serious injury can be avoided.

Other good safety tips include:

  • Before doing anything – take a walk around your yard a few times to loosen up.
  • Be cautious about the amount of strain placed on your lower back.  When lifting dirt and debris, let your arms, legs and thighs carry the load.
  • When weeding or planting, sit on the ground or kneel on a foam pad.
  • Do easier tasks first, change periodically to avoid overusing one muscle group.  You should also alternate difficult tasks with less taxing ones.
  • Switch hands frequently when doing prolonged raking, hoeing or digging.  Repetitive motion on one side can bring on low back pain and shoulder spasms.
  • Carry on manageable loads.  If a load is too heavy, get help or divide it into smaller loads.
  • Hold or carry objects close to your body, so as to not risk straining your neck and lower back.
  • Don’t stay in the sun for prolonged periods without protection .  Take frequent breaks.