Tips To Avoid Injury While Gardening
homeowners trade in their treadmills this time of year for exercise of
the garden variety. Bending, reaching and digging in the garden can
provide a great workout, but can cause muscle injury if precautions are
not taken, according to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA).
warm-up and cool-down period is just as important for gardening or
doing yard work as it is for any other athletic activity,” said
Dr. J. Michael Flynn, ACA’s chairman of the board.
“Stretching during those periods is essential to preventing
injuries, pain and stiffness.”
stretching for any activity, there are a few tips to keep in mind.
Breathe in and out slowly throughout stretching exercises; stretch
gently and smoothly — do not bounce or jerk your body in any way;
and stretch as far as you can comfortably. You should not feel pain.
Following are a few easy stretches recommended by Flynn for getting the
most out of your gardening workout:
- Stand up
and prop your heel on a back doorstep or stool with your knee straight.
Bend forward until you feel a slight pull at the back of the thigh,
called the hamstring. You may need to stabilize yourself by holding
onto a garage door handle or sturdy tree branch. Hold the position for
20 seconds, then relax. Do it once more, then hold the position for 20
seconds, then relax. Do it once more, then repeat with the other leg.
- Stand up
and put your right hand against a wall or other stable surface. Bend
your left knee and grab your ankle with your left hand. Pull your heel
toward your buttocks to stretch the quadricep muscle at the front of
your thigh. Hold that position for 20 seconds, relax and do it again.
Repeat with the other leg.
- Weave your
fingers together above your head with your palms up. Lean to one side
for 10 seconds to stretch the upper body, then reverse. Repeat two or
your best friend”: Wrap your arms around yourself and rotate to
one side, as far as you can go. Hold it for 10 seconds. Than reverse.
Repeat two or three times.
Be aware of
your body’s form while working in the yard. Kneel instead of
bending. Alternate your stance and motion as often as possible to
balance the muscles used. Flynn recommends looking for stretching
guides in your local bookstore.
When the Damage is Done
If you are
already feeling the aches and pains of gardening, there are ways to
alleviate the pain: apply a cold pack during the first 48 hours of
symptoms or a heat pack after 48 hours; but if pain persists, consider
visiting a chiropractor.
For more information visit the ACA’s Web site at