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Enjoy Gardening without Pain

While it’s not a high impact activity, gardening can still lead to injuries. Activities like weeding, mulching, raking, and pushing a wheelbarrow can cause stress and strain on your joints and muscles. However, the good news is that you can protect yourself. Physiatrist Vikram Arora, MD, with Coordinated Health, part of Lehigh Valley Health Network, has some tips on how you can avoid gardening injuries.

Warm up and cool down

As with any activity, it’s important to warm up your muscles before you start to work in your garden. “Just a brisk five to ten minute walk can help loosen your muscles. Spine stretches are also beneficial since gardening often involves a lot of bending,” says Arora.

Arora also says it’s just as important to cool down once you are finished gardening. He suggests some gentle backward bending to relieve the strain from bending forward and a short walk.

Change your position

According to Arora, one of the best ways to avoid muscle strain is to change your position frequently. “It’s common to be kneeling or bending forward in uncomfortable positions while you garden. Make sure you stand up or change position every five minutes or so. If you begin to feel any pain, take a break and stretch or move onto something else that requires you to be in a different position,” says Arora. 

Use kneeling pads

Because gardening requires you to spend a lot of time kneeling, you may want to invest in a good kneeling pad. Arora says that kneeling pads will ultimately help protect your knees and lower back by providing you with adequate support and reducing stress on joints. 

Remember proper body mechanics

While you aren’t lifting weights, it’s still important to use proper body mechanic when lifting. You should also keep it in mind when pulling weeds.

Arora says that in order to ensure you are protecting your back you should bend your knees, keep your abdominals tight, and your spine straight as you lift or pull. Avoid twisting. Make sure you pick up your foot and have your foot facing the same direction as your eyes. This will help avoid twisting your knee.

Use a wheelbarrow

Don’t put undue stress on your back! If you are going to be moving large loads of dirt or mulch, use a wheelbarrow. Make sure you keep your back straight and lift with your legs. 

Stay hydrated

It’s also important to stay hydrated while gardening. Make sure to take a water bottle with you and drink frequently.

If you do happen to experience pain, stop what you are doing and take a break. If pain persists, you can call your doctor or any of the spine specialists at LVPG Orthopedics and Sports Medicine or Coordinated Health.