With gardening season fully underway, you may be spending significant time working in the garden. In addition to being sun smart and staying hydrated, have you considered how to support your back, muscles and joints as you plant, weed, rake and lift this summer?

Gardening is a moderate form of exercise, and as with any type of exercise, warming up, stretching, proper form and pacing yourself are keys to prevent injury. The following tips will help you protect your body while you get the most enjoyment from your garden — and the summer season.

Warm up

Take the time before you begin gardening to warm up and stretch your side, thighs, shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arms, hands and wrists. Begin with a short walk to warm up muscles, and then do some gentle, sustained stretches (you can download this exercise sheet from the Ontario Chiropractic Association).

Plan it out

Decide what you will do in your garden before you set out. Make it realistic, keeping in mind the weather conditions, the time you would like to spend, and most importantly, what will be comfortable for your body.

Build in frequent breaks

Don’t push yourself, especially in the heat of the sun. Listen to your body, take breaks often to drink water and rest, particularly after any heavy lifting, and alternate between lighter and heavier tasks, kneeling and standing. If you begin to feel any significant strain, call it a day.

Plant, weed, lift and rake with proper form

Be aware of your body position, and how it’s feeling, while performing gardening tasks:

Planting and weeding — Kneel, rather than bend over, when planting and weeding. Use knee pads or a gardening mat to cushion and protect knee joints. If you have an existing injury or joint pain, be especially careful and check out the many tools available at your gardening centre or specialty shop, from long-handled tools and upright weeders to power pruners and gardening seats. And always wear supportive shoes.

Lifting — Always ensure your back is straight, and when lifting, keep the load close to your body, lifting through the thighs rather than by straining and bending your back or putting undue stress on the knees. Pivot using the feet rather than twisting with the spine when lifting, and don’t lift heavy loads above the waist. If you need to, ask for help to move heavy or awkward items.

Raking — When raking, one leg should be slightly in front of the other, with your back straight. Switch legs and hands frequently.

With careful attention to body alignment and form, and investing in supportive tools where needed, gardening can be a healthy activity, as well as a therapeutic and enjoyable experience, for all.

If you experience any muscle or joint pain after gardening which lasts longer than 48hours, you may want to consider to consult a health professional such as a chiropractor or physiotherapist.

Your NEX Wellness chiropractor in Burlington and Binbrook uses a variety of lighter touch chiropractic techniques to help you keep your spine, muscles and joints healthy; manage pain and injuries, if they occur; and suggest preventative and therapeutic exercises.

Book your appointment  by email: info@nexwellness.com or call us :

Burlington at 905-634-5000 or Binbrook at  905-692-9300 today.