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Top 7 Essential Safety Tips for Spring Gardening

Top 7 Essential Safety Tips for Spring Gardening

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Gardening can be a fun outdoor activity, but it can also be a pain in the neck, (literally. Gardening usually involves heavy lifting, crouching, and kneeling for an extended period. If not practiced safely, you could be in a lot of pain the next day. 

Today, we’re going to share our top 7 easy-to-follow safety tips for gardening so you can create and tend to the garden of your dreams without needing to ice your joints and muscles afterwards.

Lift properly

If your gardening includes any heavy lifting, avoid lifting with your back. If your knees are locked, and you’re rounding through your spine, this can cause undue stress on your back and could give you severe back pain. 

Instead, hinge at the hips and lift with your legs and glutes. Before picking up that heavy bag of soil, stones, furniture, or garden equipment, unlock your knees and push your hips back like you’re sitting on a chair. Then, use the strength of your legs as you lift the load straight up. 

Don’t forget the hidden load either! Every time you bend forward, even if you aren’t lifting an item from the ground, you are still required to lift the weight of your upper body which can be between 60-70% of your total weight. Every bend matters so be sure to keep a neutral spine and hinge from the hips.

Kneel safely

While you may be tempted to kneel on both knees while gardening at ground level, this isn’t recommended as it puts immense pressure on your sensitive knee joints and may lead you to round through your back. Instead, kneel with one leg in front and one knee on the ground (like you’re about to propose marriage). This position supports a straighter back and puts less stress on your knees and spine. Be sure to use a knee pad as well to protect the soft structures on the front of the knee from sharp rocks or the hard ground.

Warm-Up and Stretch

Spending all day gardening may cause you pain and discomfort, even if you’re being purposeful and mindful of your posture and movements. We suggest that you warm-up your body before you start gardening and take regular stretch breaks through out. There’s no end of possible stretches you can do, but we recommend doing at least 1-2 for each part of your body, including your neck, shoulders, wrist, hips, and legs. If it’s feeling stiff or sore, stretch it out.

Wear proper shoes

Are you a flip-flops or sandals person in summer? You don’t want to wear these types of shoes in the garden. Open-toed and less supportive shoes put you at a higher risk of tripping. Wear a pair of sturdy runners or casual shoes that provide your feet with good support for walking safely around your garden. 

Stay hydrated

Be sure to drink lots of cool water while you garden. Staying hydrated helps lubricate your muscles and joints, so they’re less likely to sustain an injury. Bring a glass or bottle of water with you so you don’t forget to drink.

You can also minimize the chances of heat-related injury by avoiding gardening in the peak heat hours of the day (usually after lunch to mid-afternoon). If you’re working in the hot sun, you could dehydrate faster and will sweat more. Excess sweat puts you at risk of painful chafing, so stay cool and dry by staying hydrated and protecting you from the sun!

Protect yourself from exposure

You can also stay healthy by wearing sunscreen and bug spray. By wearing sunscreen you protect yourself from harmful UV rays, and bug spray helps keep the insects away. You won’t want to instinctively slap a bug on your leg and accidentally drop a sharp tool on your toes. If you can, garden under a tarp or portable tent gazebo, that provides extra protection from the elements. 

Listen to nature…and your body

Gardening can be a peaceful experience. But while listening to those bluebirds sing, be mindful of what your body is telling you too. If you’re feeling fatigued or sore, listen to your body and take a break or get help. A gardening muscle or joint injury can cause you pain for days, leaving your garden unattended until healed. 

How to avoid gardening injuries

Prevention is vital when gardening. Through the MoveSafe program, you learn how to prepare and maintain your body before doing physical activity (including gardening), how to prepare your work area (so you have your tools and equipment at a safe, close distance), and how to safely move while doing your task (such as weeding the garden, planting bulbs, or edging your gardens).

Check out our free resources on preventing personal injury through healthy movement in our Resource Centre.

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