As the weather starts to get warmer, many people around the country begin thinking about getting some gardening in. The act of planting and growing a garden is a highly gratifying experience for many. Not only can it produce delicious fruits and vegetables or beautiful flowers, but it can also bring a sense of order to one’s life and provide a meaningful activity that produces rewarding results. However, while gardening is possibly one of the most meditative, benign exercises one can perform it is not without its potential rigors and physical exertions. In some instances, unpreparedness or unsafe practices can cause experienced gardeners to encounter the risk of injury. Even if you have been tending a garden for some time, consider the following this season:
Before you Begin Gardening
As mentioned before, gardening, for the most part, is not an arduous or mechanically difficult activity. However, you may need to engage in a combination of pushing, pulling, crouching, and lifting. It is enough that you may want to participate in some stretches beforehand. First, try standing up, then raise your right hand straight above your head. Then gently lean to your left, keeping your raised arm straight but also reaching to your left which should produce a stretch down your right side. Hold this for about ten seconds, then straighten back up. Lower your right hand and raise your left, then repeat the stretch in the opposite direction. Next, while still standing, extend your right arm in front of you. Without twisting your torso, bring your arm in straight across your body, so your elbow and bicep come in toward your chin. Place your left hand on your elbow and gently pull it closer to your chin, so you feel the stretch in your shoulder. Hold this for about ten seconds, and then lower your arms. Extend your left arm in front of you then repeat the stretch on the opposite side. Next lie on your back. Lift your right knee toward your head while wrapping your hands around your shin. Gently pull on your shin, producing a stretch you should feel in your hamstring. Hold this stretch for about ten seconds then release your leg and lie flat on the floor again. Lift your left knee toward your head and repeat the stretch on the opposite side. And when you begin to engage in gardening, always remember to lift with your legs, and never with your back.
The Right Tools for the Job
Gardening is an activity that benefits from having adequate tools and equipment. You will, of course, want a sturdy shovel to dig into the ground. You might consider two rakes, one with flexible teeth to sweep up leaves and twigs sitting on grass and one with firm teeth to brush away small stones and spread mulch. Since you’re likely to be working in sunlight, it may be worth looking into a wide-brimmed hat to prevent sunburn and keeping the sun out of your eyes. Just like in the days of the wild west, a handkerchief loosely worn around the neck can keep sunburn from affecting that area. You will definitely want to look into a good pair of gardening gloves. Not only will gloves prevent your tools from leaving blisters from repeated use, but you will be able to handle soil and plants longer with protections.
Additionally, when tending a garden pulling weeds will be a necessary part of upkeep. Make you’re your gloves have sufficient thickness because weeds can be very tough, wiry, and often try to defend themselves with thorns and unpleasant briars. You may find yourself on your knees for extended periods, in which case a pair of kneepads can allow you to go longer and also take a lot of strain out of your back in that position. These days there is a massive selection of tools that can help you be a better gardener, but having some core basic equipment on hand will not only produce better results but also reduce your risk of injury.
After a Gardening Session
When you are finishing up for the day, you want to make sure you leave yourself enough energy to put your tools away. Not only does this make for a much cleaner garden area, but tools and clutter can easily lead to injury. Stepping on a rake plays out basically as advertised and is no fun. A hot shower can promote relaxation and soothe sore muscles after a long gardening session. If you find that you have muscle fatigue or back discomfort that persists, you may consider consulting a chiropractic professional in your area. Chiropractors are medical professionals that specialize in diagnosing and treating pain and misalignment of the spine and back through typically non-invasive manipulation of the muscles and bones around the vertebrae. Gardening can potentially involve movement throughout your entire body and ensuring your back is healthy will go a long way in ensuring comfort while you work.
Gardening can mean many things to different people. For some, it represents a leisurely and relaxing hobby. Others create gardens to beautify their home and environment. Some challenge themselves to maximize output in producing bounteous crops or robust flowers and plants. And for others, there is even a peaceful spiritual satisfaction in caring for a garden and watching it grow and bloom as a result. If you have not tried gardening before perhaps consider tending one this season. Just be sure to respect it like any other physical endeavor. A few cautionary measures can have you gardening pain-free in no time.