With Spring arriving so prematurely this year, gardeners are out playing in the soil earlier than ever. Although digging in the dirt can be therapeutic for the mind, it is definitely a workout for the body, and if not properly introduced can be problematic.

Lifting heavy bags of mulch and dirt after a winter of hibernation, sustained postures while pulling weeds, and excessive sun exposure can all wreak havoc on a deconditioned body. So while you are working to get your lawn and garden to be the envy of the neighborhood, here a few tips to prevent your body from being sidelined by the weeds!

Safe Gardening Tips

1) Gardening IS exercise! Most people don’t think of gardening as exercise. But anything that requires your body to perform tasks outside of the norm is exercise. Warm up your muscles and joints with a 5-10 min walk and some stretching.

2) Change positions and tasks every 15-30 minutes. Sustained positions are very hard on your joints and muscles. Changing positions frequently helps prevent fatigue, overuse and injury. Avoid awkward positions, particularly when pulling weeds or getting into hard to reach places.

3) Take frequent breaks. This is a great time to stretch, walk, and get a drink of water. Even high endurance athletes take frequent breaks.

safe gardening tips

4) Use Proper Body Mechanics: This is likely the #1 reason people get hurt. It is critical to safe gardening.

Avoid repetitive bending, especially at your lower back or neck, this is avoids muscle and disc injuries
Get close to the task. If you need to put some force into a task, be sure to do it close to your center of gravity (your navel).
Avoid bending and twisting. This puts excessive strain on your muscles and joints and will cause an injury
Bend and lift with the knees and hips. Try to keep your back straight when lifting an object. Use your legs lower you to the ground to reach something. Leg muscles are much larger than back muscles and are designed for squatting.
Switch hands frequently when pulling weeds, pruning, cutting, etc.: this avoids fatigue and overuse injury.
Use long-handled tools to prevent bending and reaching
5) Drink water continuously. Dehydration can effect your electrolyte balance leading to fatigue, dizziness and other more serious cardiac issues.

6) Wear sunscreen during peak hours. Even if you are looking to boost your Vitamin D. You only need 15 minutes of sun exposure. Don’t overdo it and cover up your skin.

7) Wear loose, comfortable clothing, hat, and proper fitting shoes. Proper clothing and footwear will allow you the freedom to move with proper body mechanics. Flip flops are not helpful when hauling flower trays or bags of mulch.

8) Use bug spray on clothing. Even though moist soil from rain is the easiest to plant and weed in, it is also that moisture that attracts bugs and mosquitos. Avoid the bugs with a spray on your clothing. Burts Bees makes a great natural bug repellant.

9) Use organic pesticides/herbicides