It’s that time of year when the sun is out, the birds are chirping and bees are buzzing. It’s Spring! It’s the perfect time for gardening, whether you like to do so as a hobby or you just have to do basic maintenance of weeding and lawn mowing. These activities of botanical prowess sometimes come with a cost.
The body mechanics of basic garden maintenance can cause orthopaedic injury rather easily. Here are some tips on how to protect yourself during a landscape project large or small.
1) Don’t be a weekend warrior.
It is easy to delay yard work until the weekend, as we all have busy lives. Understand first that landscaping involves a substantial amount of physical labor. Instead of having 3 or more large projects, maybe only try to accomplish one large project during a given day or obtain a crew of friends or family that can assist you in order to make things more manageable.
If your project is a small maintenance task, such as weeding unsightly, yet delicious Dandelions, then spread your weeding job throughout the day in smaller bouts with rest periods in between.
2) Use the right tool for the job.
If there is one thing my father ever taught me about household projects, it is to use the right tool for the job. Certain tools are designed specifically to make the task easier on your body. When choosing a project to address, first take inventory of all the tools you have in order to make the best choice.
Sometimes you may not have the best choice of tools on hand, but we now live in a time where you can easily rent tools from your local hardware store without the commitment of purchasing something that you’ll likely never use again.
3) Watch your body mechanics.
Remember that when hauling large bags of soil or rocks, try to lift the bag up by bending from your knees and hugging the bag as close to you as possible in order to decrease the feeling of load. If you can, use a wheelbarrow to transport heavy items. Try to engage your core abdominal muscles while moving the wheelbarrow around so as to protect your back.
If you are bending over to weed or plant smaller flowers, consider putting down a mat to kneel on or use a gardening stool. These items can usually be found at any gardening depot or are easily found online.
LASTLY AND MOST IMPORTANTLY….
4) Don’t put your hand under the lawn mower!
You’ll likely end up in an operating room and then in hand therapy shortly after.
Image credits: Top photo © wabeno/Fotolia; 2nd © Coskun.tv/Fotolia; 3rd © Amy Muschik/Fotolia; 4th © Viacheslav Lopatin/Fotolia.
Ask a Physical Therapist a Question