If you’re like a lot of people, one upside of the global pandemic may have been that you had more time and inclination to garden than ever before.
You may have become addicted to the meditative kind of state you can get into while tending to your plants and the benefits of having your own fresh produce to eat at mealtimes or even share with neighbors, friends, and family members.
However, as relaxing and slow as gardening may often be, this doesn’t mean that you will never hurt yourself doing it. In fact, it uses many muscles that we often don’t use elsewhere, and if you’re not careful, you can end up injuring yourself. Read on for some common gardening issues and some tips for preventing and treating them.
One of the issues that often arise for many gardeners is repetitive strain. When people spend a lot of time gripping tools such as pruning shears, lifting heavy bags of soil or pots, or even doing a lot of digging and weeding, the body will notice it. The repetition of these types of movements can lead to muscle and tendon strain. If you feel tenderness, pins and needles, weakness, or pain in areas such as your wrists, elbows, thumbs, etc., repetitive strain may be what’s causing it.
Lower back pain is a common problem for gardeners, too. Since you have to do a lot of kneeling, squatting, bending, lifting, and twisting as you perform activities in the garden, you can quite easily tackle too much, move too far, and hurt your back. The lower parts are particularly likely to be harmed, so care must be taken.
If you’ve been gardening for a long time, you probably notice that your knees twinge or outright hurt on occasions. Many prolific gardeners end up with prepatellar (kneecap) bursitis, which is an inflammation of the bursa, the part of the kneecap that allows it to move correctly as we bend and straighten our knees.
The kneeling position is one many of us end up in frequently when out in our gardens, such as when planting new seeds or plants, puts pressure on the knees. This can lead to damaging and painful inflammation. The knee is the largest joint in the body yet often doesn’t get the care it deserves to stay healthy over time.
Other common injuries to avoid include ankle and other sprains, breaks from tripping over, and insect bites, which often get infected and sore from too much scratching.
Prevention and Treatment
If you end up with repetitive strain injuries, make an effort to move about more often and mix up your activities every 30 to 60 minutes, rather than concentrating on a single task for hours per day, especially without breaks. Also, invest in the best possible tools. Buy ergonomic equipment with helpful grips that suit specific jobs and your hand or body size, rather than one-size-fits-all instruments.
As for your back, keep in mind that warming up the muscles and joints is as necessary for gardening as it is when exercising in other ways. Start and end your outdoor sessions with at least a few minutes of stretching to help you get and stay more limber and avoid injuries.
Engage and work on your core muscles to support your back, too. Keep good posture such as your shoulders back and back straight, and don’t be too proud to ask for help with lifting and moving cumbersome things. As for your knees, protect them by using kneepads to rest on when you’re bending down or utilize a garden kneeler. Don’t stay in the same position for too long at a time and work on strengthening the muscles around your kneecaps to help the joints remain strong and supple.
Plus, always wears gloves, long sleeves, pants, and other clothing to protect your body parts from cuts and scrapes. Put away your tools and pots and other bits and pieces as you garden so you’re less likely to fall or trip over things when you’re outside, too.
As for treatment, it helps to get regular massages to loosen up tight and sore muscles and support the joints. Rest up as needed and apply heat and ice to sprains and strains and inflamed muscles. You might need to wear braces at times to help support your body. Plus, you can see a physiotherapist or chiropractor or engage in activities like yoga and Pilates to stay more supple and avoid injuring yourself from using muscles more than they can handle.
If pain is too much of an issue for you, you may need to utilize some decent over-the-counter pain medications or search online for some marijuana or CBD oil for pain management. Input terms such as “buy Massachusetts weed online” or “CBD for sale in Philadelphia,” etc., to source products.
Gardening is a wonderfully relaxing and rewarding hobby to enjoy over your life, no matter your age. However, you do need to be careful not to hurt yourself. Keep the above injury types and prevention and treatment ideas in mind so you can enjoy your time outdoors more comfortably and more often.