by Apple Therapy

Spring Yard Work Safety

The weather is getting warmer and the last frost is among us, which means many of us will be tending to our yards and gardens after the long winter. While many might perceive gardening as a mild afternoon activity, it often includes activities such as raking, digging, and weeding. These tasks have the potential to cause stress to our joints and muscles due to their repetitive nature and positioning, which are both common causes of injury. To improve safety and minimize aches and pains both during and after gardening, check out the following tips:

1. Do a warm-up!

Try walking around your yard or block for 10 minutes to warm up your muscles, and finish with a few stretches for your spine and extremities while you’re warmed up to reduce risk of injury when starting gardening.

2. Maintain Good Body Mechanics

Gardening and yard work tends to put the body in more compromised positions for varying durations, such as kneeling, reaching, bending, and lifting. If you find your knees tend to both you, put a pad under them if you have to be on the ground for extended time. Try using raised planters when possible to avoid unnecessary stress to the lumbar spine.

3. Take Occasional Breaks

If you find yourself hunched over a garden bed planting and weeding for longer periods of time, take a walk around the house to keep your muscles moving and prevent joint stiffness from settling in. Keeping your muscles warm especially on those brisk spring days will help to prevent injury.

4. Dealing with Heavier Loads

When possible, use a wheelbarrow or dolly to help transport heavier items such as mulch, rocks, dirt, etc. to reduce load on the spine. If you must lift from the ground or a lower level, use proper body mechanics, lifting with your lower body in a squat position instead of your back.