Spring is among us and we are all getting ready to start potting new flowers and planting our vegetable gardens. However gardening and yard work can have negative affects on your body if you are not managing your work correctly. Here are a few tips to remember while you work outside this month:
Take It Slow - Start with 30 minutes of gardening/cleaning on the first day, and increase your time with these activities by 15 to 30 minutes on subsequent episodes. By taking it more slowly initially, you allow your body some time to acclimate to the increased demands of these activities and reduce your chance of serious injury.
Stretch - As with any physical activity, it is important to warm up your muscles. Performing a few simple stretches before AND after your activities will decrease your risk of injury and help minimize soreness at the end of the day.
Use Proper Body Mechanics - When lifting an object, stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Keep an inward arch in your low back as you bend your knees to lower yourself to the object you’re picking up. Try to engage your abdominal muscles (without holding your breath) and lift with your leg muscles as you stand. Avoid twisting motions while you lift, carry, and place items back down. If you think something may be too heavy or is too awkward a shape to lift on your own…it probably is. Don’t be a hero-ask for help!
Variety - Try to avoid marathon cleaning or gardening sessions. Instead of 3 hours of weeding on your hands and knees, try 30 minutes of this and then switch to another activity that will use different muscles and put your body in a different position.
Hydrate - Water will help prevent dehydration and heat-related illnesses and will also help decrease muscle soreness by giving the body the fluids it needs to recover from your physical exertion.