Get Ready for Gardening Season
Packets of seeds and starter plants are turning up at the grocery and the farmers market. Are you ready for gardening season? Gardeners often spend hours happily dreaming of what to plant and how to organize their garden plots, but many forget to prepare themselves for the kickoff of the season.
UW Health Sports Medicine Fitness Center staff offer a few tips to help you stay healthy when you're out digging in the dirt:
- Dress for safety. Wear good clothing, sun screen, bug repellent, gloves and safety googles as needed.
- Wear supportive footwear. Many of us retire old shoes to work in the garden or yard, where we are often standing for hours! Wear shoes that offer support.
- Use good tools. Research which ergonomic tools might be helpful for your body. Get cutting tools serviced, dull blades can be a hazard.
- Check your garden for hazards. Our risk of tripping or a mis-step increases when we are carrying something or focused elsewhere. Each time you work, check your space for safety. If you question it, stop and fix it. Also pay attention to objects you might bump into with a wheelbarrow.
- Start slow. Just as your first run should not be a marathon, start slow with yard work. Set a timer for 15-30 minutes. Get a drink, stretch or maximize your daily activity by taking a 5-10 minute walk. The change in activity can help prevent repetitive stress injuries.
- Change tasks frequently. Mixing up tasks and positions help decrease soreness and fatigue.
- Be honest about what is physically safe for you to do. This might be the hardest one on the list!
- Use proper lifting mechanics. We all know we should do this, but sometimes we ignore it when not convenient. Keep objects close to center of gravity (navel), lift with your hips and legs, ask for help.
- Avoid twisting with lifting. Can you move something from location A to B to C instead of location A to C? It might take longer but not as long as rehabilitation takes!
- Consider raised beds. Raised beds may decrease your kneeling and bending time.
- Stretch afterwards. End your gardening day with some gentle back and leg stretches. Taking a walk can sometimes help ease some kinks.
- Have your cell phone with you. Always a good idea.
Date Published: 05/04/2015