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Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Body and Garden

As the snow melts and we can finally start to see our yards again, the prospect of gardening begins to approach. 


Gardening and yard work can be a part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.   It provides the benefits of improving endurance, strength, and flexibility, in addition to the benefits of enjoying the outdoors. 


The tips below will help minimize the risk of injury and pain to allow you to enjoy the benefits of this upcoming gardening season.


1. Warm up and cool down.

 

Gardening, like any other exercise, requires a proper warm up and cool down.  Start with an easy walk and exercises consisting of similar motions you would use while gardening.  Work from small to large ranges of motion, and target the muscles and joints required to complete you gardening tasks.  After putting away your shovel, perform stretching exercises to target your back, legs, arms, hands and neck. 


2. Never work through pain.

 

If you feel pain before, during or after gardening don’t push through it.  It will be worse to have to cut your gardening season short due to an injury rather than resting and seeking help early. 


3. Use proper tools.

 

There are ergonomic tools available that can help those with mobility restrictions, or to simply help make gardening tasks easier and reduce the stress and strain on your body.  When buying tools, make sure to choose those with proper handles for your height.  Ensure you tools are sharp and well maintained to reduce the workload on your body and prevent injury.  Raised garden beds are also available to help reduce bending over while gardening. 
It is not only important to consider the use of proper gardening tools.  Ensure you are wearing the proper footwear to help you navigate the uneven ground, slippery surfaces, and obstacles present while gardening. 


4. Plan, pace, and stay hydrated.

 

Gardening can be hard work.  Plan the tasks that you need to accomplish, and spread the work out over several weeks so you don’t get overwhelmed or over do it.  Make sure you start slowly and take frequent breaks, as well as change positions or alternate tasks to avoid overuse injuries.  In addition, staying hydrated throughout the day and while you work is important during any physical activity, especially as the temperatures outside begin to rise.

 

5. Use proper movement and form.

 

When bending or lifting, hold the objects close to your body, squat to use the large muscles in your legs instead of you back, and keep you feet wider apart to give yourself a large base of support.  When raking or reaching, move your feet to avoid twisting your trunk and to get body closer to the task.
Don’t wait to seek help if you’re suffering from a gardening related injury.  Physiotherapy can help prevent and treat injuries to keep you and your garden healthy.

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