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Gardening Safely: Top Tips from Physiotherapists to Prevent Injuries

Gardening is a wonderful way to connect with nature, get some exercise, and beautify your surroundings. However, it's not without its risks. From repetitive strain injuries to sudden twists and falls, gardening can pose various hazards to your physical well-being. As physiotherapists, we see our fair share of gardening-related injuries, but we’ve gathered some valuable tips to help prevent them. Here are some of the best ways to stay safe and injury-free while tending to your garden:

  1. Warm Up Before You Dig In: Just like any other physical activity, gardening requires warming up your muscles and joints. Take a few minutes to stretch your arms, legs, and back before you start gardening. This can help reduce the risk of strains and sprains.

  2. Use Proper Body Mechanics: When lifting heavy objects such as bags of soil or pots, always remember to lift with your legs, not your back. Bend your knees and keep your back straight to avoid unnecessary strain on your spine. Additionally, avoid twisting your body while carrying heavy loads.

  3. Take Breaks: Gardening can be a physically demanding activity, so it's essential to listen to your body and take breaks when needed. Pace yourself and try not to overexert yourself, especially on hot days.

  4. Use Ergonomic Tools: Invest in gardening tools that are designed to reduce strain on your body. Look for tools with padded handles, long handles to reduce bending, and lightweight materials whenever possible. Ergonomic tools can make a significant difference in preventing repetitive strain injuries.

  5. Alternate Tasks: Avoid spending too much time doing the same repetitive motion, such as weeding or digging. Instead, alternate between different tasks to give your muscles a chance to rest and recover.

  6. Mind Your Posture: Pay attention to your posture while gardening. Keep your back straight and avoid hunching over for extended periods. If possible, use a cushion or kneeler to support your knees while kneeling.

  7. Stay Hydrated: Gardening can be sweaty work, especially in warm weather. Make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and prevent heat-related illnesses.

  8. Protect Your Skin: Don't forget to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays by wearing sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and lightweight, breathable clothing. Long sleeves and pants can also help prevent cuts and scratches from thorny plants.

  9. Watch Your Footing: Be mindful of uneven terrain, slippery surfaces, and hidden obstacles in your garden. Wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes with good traction to reduce the risk of slips and falls.

  10. Know Your Limits: Lastly, know when to ask for help or hire assistance for tasks that may be too physically demanding for you. It's better to seek help than to risk injuring yourself.

By following these tips, you can enjoy all the benefits of gardening while minimizing the risk of injury. If you do happen to feel some pain or stiffness after getting your garden ready for the season, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our locations and one of our skilled practitioners can help you get back at it as quickly as possible. Remember, a little prevention goes a long way towards maintaining your physical health and well-being. Happy gardening!

Jenny Lindsay, Registered Physiotherapist FCAMPT


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