Gardening on Earth Day? You'll Want to Read This First

Apr 20, 2018

Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy

by Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy

While gardening may be relaxing and therapeutic, it can also leave you feeling stiff and painful, especially if you have a prior injury. To truly enjoy the experience, you should remain aware of injuries and set yourself up for success. Before you roll up your sleeves and get digging this Earth Day, check out our seven ways to reduce the chance of a garden injury.
Think Taller
Much of the pain associated with gardening comes from tending to plants in the ground. Instead of planting directly in the ground, consider raised beds, hanging baskets, window boxes, and table planters.
Raised beds: There are plenty of DIY options and you can also purchase raised beds at a variety of retailers. Just make sure you’re thinking about proper companion plants for the best results.
Tools to Help

  • Knees: One of the leading injuries associated with gardening comes from tending to a garden on your knees. The position puts pressure on your knees. Purchasing a garden kneeler seat or wearing knee pads is a great tool to have in your arsenal to fight knee pain. You can also use a rolling garden cart.
  • Back: Combat back pain by using long-handed tools. Tools like rakes, shovels, stand-up weed pullers, and hoes extend your reach and mitigate back strain. Try to keep your back straight during all activities.
  • Wrists and Hands: If your wrists and hands tend to hurt with garden work, invest in tools that are designed to help. Start by viewing the The Arthritis Foundation recommended gardening tools.

Time of Day
Especially in Arizona, it’s important to consider the temperatures throughout the day. If you’re planning to work in your garden during the warmer months, consider the time of day you tend to your plant. Earlier hours will bring less heat and a more pleasurable experience, as well as lessen your chances of heat exhaustion. Don’t forget sun protection: a hat, sunblock, and layers.
Warm Up
Stretching and warming up is beneficial to your body before any sort of physical activity, especially one where you’ll be carrying heavy loads and performing strenuous actions. Go for a 10-minute walk and stretch your back, wrists, and chest. Here’s a guide to get you started.
Lift Correctly
Don’t forget to lift with your knees! And if the load is too heavy, avoid lifting it all together. Use items like a wheelbarrows and garden wagons to help.
Pace Yourself
Managing a garden is a lot of work! Pace yourself, stay hydrated, and make sure you’re working on a full stomach to extend your energy. Listen to your body and take breaks when you need to. Injuries are more likely to happen when you’re tired and you performing tasks incorrectly. Set a timer to change up your tasks every 15 minutes or so.
Proper Form
Just like any other physical activity, there are a few gardening best practices for body form. Never twist your back while performing a task, remember to breathe, utilize your abdominals often, and make sure all movements are fluid.
With these gardening tips and some injury awareness on your part, you can lessen the chance of hurting yourself while gardening. However, injuries can still occur, even with the most cautious gardeners. If you do find yourself with a gardening injury, schedule an appointment with us so we can help you get back outside and enjoying your garden!

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