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Gardening and Your Body

It is almost summer in San Diego, and because of the beautiful weather, gardening is a major past time in our city. However, gardening with poor body mechanics can be a major cause of injury. Here are some tips to keep you from getting hurt while gardening this season:

• Warm up and cool down: Gardening is a physical task so treat it as you would any other activity. Perform a short and cool down before and after. This could involve walking and stretches for 10 minutes prior to and after gardening.

• Change positions frequently: Depending on what you are doing, gardening can place you in a static position for a long time. Instead of waiting to finish your task, have planned rest breaks where you vary your position. If you are bending over for a long time to weed, stand up for at least 1-2 minutes in order to stretch in the opposite direction. Try not to stay in a static position for more than 5-10 minutes if you can.

• Practice safe body mechanics when lifting and weeding. Make sure your back is straight, you are bending your knees, and you are tightening your “core” muscles when performing these tasks. Additionally, when carrying or lifting heavy objects, keep them as close to your body as you can.

• If your gardening requires you to kneel, use knee pads.

• Use a wheelbarrow to carry heavy planting materials.

• Consider raised planters if you are having trouble with bending/kneeling to the ground.

• If you start to feel pain, STOP gardening. Be consistently aware of your posture and how your body feels.

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