Be Kind to Your Body

radius-toolsWho hasn’t experienced stiff and sore muscles after a long day in the garden? With a gardener’s enthusiasm to get into the garden – especially after this long cold winter – it’s easy to overdo it.

Here are a few tips from the BC & Yukon Divison of The Arthritis Society that make sense for all gardeners:

Start by warming your muscles – even a short walk around your yard will do!  Try some stretches, and think about what you can realistically do at one time.

  1. Pace yourself!  After 30 minutes, take a break. Admire your work, walk around the garden, make notes in your journal. Or switch to another task.  You can always come back to it.
  2. Think about your posture.  When raking mulch or sweeping up, remind yourself to stand up straight.  Handles are available that attach to your rake which allow you to keep your spine vertical.
  3. Remember good lifting techniques when spreading mulch or other materials.  Bend your knees, keeping your back as straight as possible and then straighten your knees to lift.  If you are “knee challenged”, even a small knee bend will help to take the pressure off your back.
  4. Always avoid lifting heavy loads of weeds or other debris.  Use smaller containers more frequently. Use a dolly to move flower pots and containers.
  5. Use yard waste bins with wheels and roll this container close to where you are working.  Push it in front of you rather than pulling from behind, and tip the container to empty.
  6. Alternate your activity.  Dig, rake, sweep, spread and then frequently stretch your back from a standing position.
  7. Protect your hands by wearing good gardening gloves.  They will protect your skin and also help to take the pressure off your small finger joints.  Gently and frequently stretch your hands.
  8. Look for ergonomic tools that reduce the strain on your joints such as these ergonomic hand tools (above) and others shown in our March 21, 2017 newsletter.