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Garden Smart to Stay Going Strong

Spring is here, and with it comes the enjoyment of being outdoors and starting your garden. Here at ProCare Physical Therapy, many of our patients make returning to their gardening hobby one of their goals during the rehabilitation process. 

Gardening can be a great form of exercise. In fact, gardening can burn up to 300 calories in an hour. Although, gardening, as with many forms of exercise, if done improperly, may cause problems for your body. 

Here are a few tips to keep you gardening through the summer.

Warm up: As with any form of exercise it is important to “get the blood flowing”. You can do this by starting with a 10-minute walk, rolling your shoulders in circular motions, and turning your head slowly from side to side. 

Listen to your body: If you feel aches and fatigue in certain muscles, it is time for a break, or to change positions. As a general rule, you should change your position every 10 minutes or so.

Don’t bend over from your back: When you bend down to pull weeds, or grab for something, make sure to bend from your knees, as well as contract your abdominal muscles for additional support.

Kneel properly: If you plan on being down on the ground, attempt to squat or kneel on one knee, rotating between knees. It may also help to use a kneeling cushion for the health of your knee joints. Some pads have sidebars, which may make it easier to get up from the ground. You can avoid kneeling all together if you choose to use planter boxes.

Use the right tools: Use tools that are ergonomically designed to lessen stress on your hands and wrists. Wide gripped tools can help prevent injuries such as carpal tunnel. Don’t use tools with short handles if you are tall. This will cause you to bend from your back, which can cause injury over time. 

Avoid twisting at the waist: Do not plant your feet in one position and make your back do all the work. Move your feet when turning towards your work to keep your back healthy. 

Keep hydrated: As with any outdoor activity, it is important to drink lots of water to keep cool and prevent dehydration - which can lead to injury. 

Cool down: When finished gardening, give your muscles a chance to return to a resting state. This can be accomplished by a short walk around the yard to admire your work!

If you are experiencing pain and limitations which are preventing you from enjoying gardening, or any hobby, a Physical Therapist can help.  

Perry Koslow, PT, MPT, OCS, CSCS CKTP is Regional Vice President of ProCare Physical Therapy, and adjunct faculty at the University of Scranton. 

Promoting Healthy Lifestyles, Back Pain, Sports and Recreation


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