Garden Safely and Avoid Injury this Spring

April 8th, 2011

The snow has melted and spring is in the air. With the nice weather comes the urge to get outside and get the yard work started. But working too hard after a long winter of inactivity can lead to sore muscles or worse.

“People don’t think of gardening as a strenuous activity so they tend to overdo it,” says Michael Ciccotti, MD, Director of Sports Medicine at the Rothman Orthopaedic Institute.

“What people don’t realize is that gardening can lead to lower back pain, strained wrists, tendonitis and a host of other injuries.”

Dr. Ciccotti offers these tips to avoid injury while getting your garden ready for spring:

  • Do a few simple stretches like marching in place, stretching calves and shoulder circles.
  • When racking or using tools, don’t twist your body. Use your legs to shift your weight forward and back.
  • Lift heavy items with your legs by placing your feet shoulder width apart, bending at the knees and tightening your abdominal muscles.
  • Avoid squatting or bending. Instead, use a small stool or a pad to kneel on.
  • Use a tool while pulling weeds to avoid wrist pain. Something as simple as a household fork will work.
  • While relaxing, use hand grips or squeeze a rubber ball to strengthen the hand and arm muscles.

Dr. Ciccotti says that the most important thing to remember is moderation.

“Outdoor chores can be just as strenuous as a workout, so you should always warm-up your muscles, take a 15-minute break every hour, and stay hydrated.”

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